Preventing Infections. It seems simple enough to say, “Don’t get an infection,” but how do we prevent infections from happening in the first place? While it might not be possible to prevent all infections, we can cut down on the number we do get by taking some simple steps to protect ourselves.
Wash your hands. Get recommended vaccinations. Clean open wounds or get a healthcare professional to treat open wounds – and keep them clean. Do not share personal items (toothbrushes, shavers, etc.) Be careful of what you consume, particularly in areas where certain types of infections are more common.
Wash your hands.
The number one infection-fighting tool against any type of bug (bacteria, virus, fungus, or parasite) is proper, thorough, and frequent hand washing. It’s amazing how many people don’t wash their hands when they should and how many people who do wash their hands, don’t do it properly. Common sense tells us to wash our hands after using the bathroom or touching something dirty, for example. We also know we should also wash our hands before eating or handing food or drink.
How to wash your hands. Washing your hands is a simple mechanical motion, whether you are using soap and water or a waterless product. It’s the mechanical motion of rubbing that makes hand washing the most effective.If using soap and water, make you hands wet first, even if using a liquid soap. Rub the soap bar or add the liquid to the palm of your hands (liquid soaps are more hygienic than bar soaps). Rub and lather up the soap for at least 20 seconds, cleaning the insides of your hands, the back of your hands, each finger, under the nails, and between each finger. Don’t forget the thumbs and wrists! When at least 20 seconds are up, rinse your hands under running water and dry with a clean towel. Don’t rub your hands, pat them dry. Rubbing can cause cracks, especially if your skin is dry.If there is no running water available, you can use the waterless products sold for this purpose. However, these products are only recommended for hand washing if there is no visible dirt – such as just coming into the office after your morning commute. To wash your hands with these products, you use the same mechanical rubbing motion, front and back of hands and – again – don’t forget between the fingers and the thumbs. Wait for the product to dry before touching anything. Healthcare providers, such as doctors, nurses, physiotherapists – anyone who touches you or any items they may hand to you, such as medication, should wash their hands before doing so. If you don’t see them washing their hands, it is your right to ask them to do so.
But here are some other examples of when you should wash your hands: after handling food, as soon as you come inside your home, after touching an animal or anything related to an animal (such as toys, blankets, bed) and after cleaning up after an animal, before and after touching a wound or cut. Also, after touching garbage, after changing a dirty diaper, after blowing your nose or coughing into your hand.
Vaccinations. There’s no doubt about it – vaccinations save lives. Childhood diseases that used to claim the lives of children are now much less common. Deadly diseases like polio aren’t found in developed nations and are becoming less frequent in developing nations. Even vaccinations for influenza and pneumonia help save lives. Not everyone can be vaccinated. They may be allergic to something in the vaccine or have an illness that makes it dangerous for them to be vaccinated. To stay safe, these people depend on those around them to be vaccinated. For example, if a child is being treated for a childhood cancer, it’s possible that his doctor says that he has to wait for his vaccinations, therefore the child can’t be protected from some diseases. But, if all his playmates, classmates and family members are vaccinated, the chances of him being exposed to the contagious diseases are a lot slimmer than if those around him have not been vaccinated.
Here is the recommended vaccination schedule for children, from the Centers of Disease Control (CDC): Schedule. The same thing happens with illnesses like influenza. Influenza is a viral infection that can be fatal and if not fatal, it can cause severe damage to the body. Vaccinations against influenza reduce that risk. Here is the CDC recommended vaccination schedule for adults: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/hcp/imz/adult.html
If you travel outside of North America, there may be recommended vaccines for your destination. The CDC has a section where you can find out what you may need in terms of travel-related vaccinations.
How to wash your hands to prevent infection: