Why Should We Continue Washing Our Hands After The Pandemic?


Washing your hands after using the bathroom is universal advice for good reason. Shown reduce the incidence of diarrhea up to 40 percent. The coronavirus can be transmitted through feces, and a single gram of human feces can contain one trillion microbes.

Chances are your parents and teachers taught you to wash your hands before eating. I often remember a fun conversation I witnessed at a friend’s house years ago. Calling his 4-year-old son to dinner and telling him to wash his hands, he went straight to the kitchen sink. “Not there, in the bathroom,” said the mother, exasperated, to the question to which the boy answered, “Is this a washbasin or not?”

Jewish tradition calls for hand washing before blessing, which initiates the meal, and during the Passover Sada, hands are washed twice: once before eating the bitter vegetable soaked in salt water and again before blessing the matzo. The Talmud states: “Any food immersed in liquid requires washing of hands before being eaten,” because the liquid can become contaminated and introduce a harmful organism into the food.

Muslims, who are told to be clean before presenting themselves to Allah, also perform the ritual of hand washing. Each hand (among other parts of the body) must be washed three times before prayer.

But nowadays, surgeons are most likely winning the handwashing award. Surgical gloves didn’t exist when 19th-century surgeon Joseph Lister, whose name is the product Listerine, showed that pre-operative disinfection was the key to preventing infections in surgical wounds. Washing hands for five minutes with soap and warm water, usually a brush, became accepted protocol in the late 1800s.

However, the introduction of sterile gloves has not made the thorough hand cleaning by surgeons trivial. After surgery, about 18 percent of the gloves were shown to have small holes that went unnoticed by surgeons more than 80 percent of the time. And when a surgery takes two hours, more than a third of surgeons likely to have holes in the gloves.

Therefore, anyone likely to touch the surgical site should brush up to the elbows and under each nail for five minutes to reduce the risk of contamination. The aim is to eliminate microorganisms that live on the hands under the surgeon’s gloves and prevent bacterial growth.


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