Hand washing - the simplest way to prevent the spread of viral infections
Posted on 5th March 2020 at 14:07
The benefits of hand washing in relation to preventing the spread of viral infections
With Corona Virus spreading apace within the UK it is important that we protect ourselves as best we can without panicking, and proper hand washing is undoubtedly the simplest and cheapest way to prevent the spread of infection. If you understand the hand washing process and are aware of the best products to use then a few simple steps will help increase your natural immunity and resistance.
Water on its own does not do a good job when it comes to keeping clean. Water molecules are tightly bonded and do not break apart easily but bead up on the surface of the skin. Natural soap being a surfactant breaks the surface tension of water droplets causing the water to spread out and wet more thoroughly. Dirt, grease, bacteria and viruses (like Corona) are then effectively removed as the soap attaches itself to them and suspends them in its lather, which is then washed away. This simple but magical reaction is one of the greatest ways in which we can keep infections in check.
There are vast difference however between antibacterial liquid soaps and hand washes and natural cold-processed soaps. Antibacterial products were formulated initially for use in operating theatres and this is where they are most beneficial. The chemicals they contain such as Triclosan, benzalkonium chloride and chlorohexidine work in the same way as antibiotics and as such contribute to the general problem of bacterial resistance at home and within the community. Corona, like colds and flu is a virus not a bacteria so antibacterial washes confer little benefit. In fact they may be contributing to the problem. Our belief in their efficacy makes us less attentive to proper hand washing which should consist of applying natural soap and water to the skin, rubbing the hands together vigorously for 15 seconds (that’s quite a long time if you count in terms of one monkey, two monkey…) then rinsing thoroughly thus removing both harmful bacteria and viruses. Whatever product we use, our hands will be repopulated with bacteria and viruses within 90 minutes of cleansing and given that on average we touch around 300 surfaces every half an hour we do need to keep on top of this process. Using harsh chemical soaps and washes on such a frequent basis can interfere with the integrity of the skin (especially if it is already compromised with eczema, psoriasis or dermatitis etc) causing dryness and cracking which can result in further infection. A natural cold-processed soap will continually moisturise the skin and its more effective cleansing properties make it a better choice.
Whilst bacteria are constantly present on all surfaces around us including foods, viruses transfer from person to person via droplet spread. They may be present on surfaces such as door handles for a short period of time but they do not live and breed on them. Thorough hand washing with natural soap especially after sneezing or blowing the nose is therefore the simplest, cheapest and most effective way to significantly reduce the spread of viral infections like Corona.
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