You’ve heard it time and again: Wash your hands to avoid getting sick.
Turns out it’s still good advice.
But you have to dry your hands too.
Hands that stay wet or damp after you clean them can carry bacteria or viruses — and using a hand dryer is likely to spread microbes through the air, a recent study showed. Your best bet is a paper towel, even though it’s not so great for the environment.
“Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick,” says Grace Adeniji-Ilesanmi, a nurse practitioner with Unum. “Cold and flu are spread mostly by direct contact, therefore it is recommended that you avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.”
Bear in mind that you can pick up germs from surfaces a sick person touches, doorknobs and tables chief among them in the workplace.
Also from Mitra Malek on WorkWell:
If someone shows symptoms of illness, you should stay at least six feet from them, says Adeniji-Ilesanmi.
A few things to keep in mind about washing your hands:
– you don’t have to use hot water — warm or cold works
– wash the backs of your hands too
– scrub for 20 seconds (as long as humming the “Happy Birthday” song twice)
That’s according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC also says that studies show hand washing can reduce illnesses such as the common cold by as much as 21%.
Other things can help you avoid getting sick too: sleeping enough, eating well and not being chronically or excessively stressed, all of which can tax your immune system. In general, a healthy lifestyle helps, according to Harvard University.
Journalist Mitra Malek writes about wellness, fitness and innovation. She has taught yoga regularly since 2006 and was a senior editor for Yoga Journal magazine. Learn more at mitramalek.com.