Often we may be sick and have to care for little ones too. We all have a magical tool at our disposal that may help to limit the number of germs and therefore illnesses that we have to face in the winter months. This magical tool is also known as hand washing! (GASP)
Hand washing can actually be more effective than the standard hand sanitizing creams. This is due to the fact that scrubbing our hands for 30 seconds helps to remove germs. This is more effective than just rubbing alcohol into our hands.
So what is with all this talk about handwashing? Well, did you know that the first week of December is National Handwashing Week? This is perfect timing with the start of cold and flu season. We can help eradicate the spread of illnesses by reducing the number of spreadable germs by washing our hands frequently. Wow, who knew the power to stay healthy laid within ourselves?
One doctor, Ignaz Semmelweis, attempted to eradicate childbirth fever through encouraging others to simply wash their hands. Childbirth fever was a common and often fatal risk to moms and babies in the 1800s.
In his daily practice Dr. Semmelweis observed that care providers would often move from one patient to the next without switching gloves or observing any hygiene practices. Often a provider would touch a deathly ill, or sometimes dead, patient with bare hands and then attend to a mom in labor or who had recently delivered a baby. This practice would take the germs from the ill to a mom and baby who would otherwise be healthy. The mom and baby would, within a few days, get sick. Thus started Dr Semmelweis’ practice of hand washing.
Once he began this practice, he noticed a significant difference between his patients’ risk of surviving childbirth compared to other providers patients. His attempts to get other medical providers on board with handwashing were ridiculed and mocked. Although Dr. Semmelweis was unable to get other medical professionals to catch on to the benefits of handwashing, once the practice was eventually established the risk of childbirth fever was substantially lowered.
Dr. Semmelweis was definitely on to something with handwashing. Unfortunately it took a few decades for the rest of the world to catch onto this simple practice that is so beneficial. So as you go about enjoying the holidays with your family don’t forget to wash your hands. It is probably the best gift you can give them--the prevention of illness.