National Flu Vaccine Week and National Hand Washing Awareness Week are this week.

Hand hygiene and the flu — and most other viruses, colds, and infections — are closely linked, notes Catholic Medical Center’s Ashley Conley.

“Hand washing is really important to get rid of dirt but also any germs that may be on your hands,” said Conley, director of infection prevention at CMC. “It’s extra important to wash your hands before eating, after using the restroom and before touching your eyes, nose and mouth. It’s how you prevent contacting germs that make you sick.”

Good hand washing habits can be easier said than done, especially when it comes to getting kids to wash every time they should, she said in a CMC news release.

“Everybody has that problem with kids, even my own 7-year-old,” said Conley. “There are good online resources as well as some cute, interactive ideas. One thing I use, even with adults, is glitter.”

Conley explains that it’s hard to appreciate how easily germs can spread because germs are invisible. Using glitter helps to visualize how germs work.

“Sprinkle it on a surface and see how easily it gets on your hands and, in turn, everything else. Then wash it off and see how difficult it can be to get your hands completely clean.”

Glo germ, a glow-in-the-dark lotion, works in the same way, Conley said.

“Here at the hospital we have staff put it on their hands, then wash it off. After, we use a black light to see if they got all the spots they needed to reach.”

Hand sanitizer is good to have around for a quick clean on the go, she said.

“When it comes to using the bathroom and preparing food, however, you should use soap and water,” Conley said

For more resources on good hand washing habits and tips for kids, visit one of these websites:

Monday, January 20, 2020