GANAPATHI BHAT, AKOLA
Hand washing with soap is the single most significant step towards healthcare. Washing of hands is not haphazardly wetting the hands in running water after application of soap; it is an art and it involves science as well. Palms, back of hands, fingers are all cleaned in a systematic way. Diarrhea associated disorders can reduce to half the number by regular and proper hand washing. The possibility of developing respiratory infections gets diminished by 15 per cent when hands are scrupulously cleaned, following the protocol laid down. All three types of hand washing – social hand hygiene, antiseptic hand cleansing and surgical scrubbing – have their own place in hygiene protocol. Studies indicate that a 15-second thorough washing of both hands together can approximately eliminate 90 per cent of germs. As a rule, the type of soap or the temperature of water have no bearing on the extent and intensity of hand cleansed. Singing the “happy birthday chorus twice to be free of microbes” was the rule of the thumb for hand washing duration that generally hovered around between 15 to 20 seconds. The friction between the hands and the fingers is known to remove the bacteria affecting the hands. Since dampness of hands can facilitate spread of transfer of bacteria to the body, drying of hands is too vital to be sidetracked. Paper cloth, clean towel, air dryer or drying the hands under the fan are common ways to dry the wet water out of one’s hands. The last mentioned, that can also be called as evaporation method, is easily accessible and highly affordable though a trifle time consuming. It is vital to avoid rubbing a ‘yet to dry’ hand against one’s towel which may not be clean at all. Hungarian physician Ignaz Semmelweis, in the 19th century, while investigating a rare infection among new mothers in the maternity ward of a Vienna hospital that resulted in their deaths, postulated that carrying germs from one ward to the other was the culprit because hand washing was not the norm those days.