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Hand Washing Amidst COVID-19

Hand Washing Amidst COVID-19

With the rise of COVID-19, washing your hands properly is more important than ever. Though hand-washing is a common, everyday task, it is best to ensure that you are taking all the steps to wash your hands as thoroughly as possible, as doing so can prevent the spread of germs that come from contact with infected surfaces or persons. 

Wash your hands:

  • Before touching your face (eyes, nose, mouth)
  • Before preparing or eating food
  • After touching contaminated surfaces 
  • After blowing your nose, sneezing, or coughing

 

Why Washing With Soap Is Important

Washing your hands is most effective with soap and water. But why is something so simple so effective?

The COVID-19 virus has a lipid membrane that protects and holds the virus together. Soap disrupts this membrane, breaking the virus apart.

Soap molecules consist of hydrophilic heads and hydrophobic tails--in other words, one side is attracted to water, and the other is repelled by water. When soap molecules interact with and dissolve in water, they arrange themselves into tiny clusters (“micelles”) in which the hydrophilic heads make up the outer layer, and the hydrophobic (fat-loving) tails make up the inner layer. The hydrophobic tails can dissolve fats, which is key to destroying the virus.

When soap interacts with the virus, the hydrophobic tails of the micelles are attracted to the lipid (fat) membranes of the coronavirus. The tails insert themselves into the fatty membrane of the virus, interfering with the protective layer and therefore destroying the virus.

Visit the following link for a video on how soap works to killthe COVID-19 virus: https://healthmatters.nyp.org/how-does-handwashing-with-soap-kill-the-coronavirus/

 

How to wash your hands

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water.
  • Apply soap and lather well.
  • Rub your hands for at least 20 seconds, making sure to scrub between and behind each of your fingers, around your thumbs, under your fingernails, around your wrists, and around the backs of your hands.
  • Rinse well with water.
  • Dry your hands with a clean, dry towel.
 

It is important that you take the full 20 seconds (about the equivalent of the length of the “Happy Birthday” song) to wash your hands, as this time allows for the soap to work at breaking down the virus. 

When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers may serve as an alternative. Do ensure that the hand-sanitizer consists of at least 60% alcohol, or the sanitizer will not be effective.

References:

https://healthmatters.nyp.org/how-does-handwashing-with-soap-kill-the-coronavirus/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/hand-washing/art-20046253

https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html

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