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The Importance of Handwashing

By: Nicole Foxworth, PAC

Its winter time and with that comes cold weather and staying indoors. It’s the season of spreading germs by shaking hands, touching doorknobs, and countertops, etc. The best way to keep from spreading or picking up germs and viruses on your hands is HANDWASHING.

Even if your hands look clean they can still carry many different types of germs and viruses. A study out last year showed that 1 in 6 cell phones have fecal matter on them.   That’s right poop germs on 1 in 6 phones. The main reason is that people are not washing their hands after using the bathroom.

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), good handwashing reduces the number of people who get sick with diarrhea by 31%, and the number of respiratory illnesses like colds, in the general population by 21%. Even though there is widespread knowledge of the importance of handwashing, a recent study showed that only 31% (1 out of 10) men and 65% (6.5 out of 10) women wash their hands after using a public restroom---there is room for improvement!

The best way to wash your hands is with soap and running water. First, wet your hands with warm or cold water and apply soap. Next, rub your hands together and make a good lather while humming a little tune, like “Happy Birthday” or the “ABC” song. Try to get in between your fingers and under your nails if possible.   Rinse your hands under running water with your hands pointing down so that the dirty soap and germs run down into the sink and not back onto your hands.   Last, dry your hands using a clean towel or allow them to air dry.

If you do not have running water available, hand sanitizers are ok to use.   It’s important to use sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol. They are not as good as using soap and water, but they can cut down on spreading germs when running water is not available.   They do not work as well when your hands are visibly dirty. Apply the sanitizer to the palm of your hand. Rub both hands together and continue rubbing until your hands are dry.

Again, keeping your hands clean is the best way to keep you and your family healthy this winter. For any further questions about the importance of handwashing or recommendations for your family, please ask your doctor or call 692-4289 to make an appointment at BRCHS.

Nicole Foxworth is a Physician’s Assistant at Blue Ridge Community Health Services. BRCHS has been serving Hendersonville and the surrounding communities for nearly 50 years in an effort to provide high quality and affordable medical, dental and mental health care as well as promote health awareness/education.  If you would like more information about BRCHS, call 692-4289 ext. 2509; write to BRCHS at P. O. Box 5151, Hendersonville, NC  28793; or online at and

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