Cologne (dpa / tmn) – After the toilet – of course! Before cooking – logical! But otherwise? When it comes to hand washing, almost everyone has their own rules. Some are stricter, others less so. And some people wonder: is it really important? The experts have a clear answer to that: yes, absolutely.
"We do not live in a world without germs," says Professor Volkhard Kempf, director of the Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hospital Hygiene at the University Hospital of Frankfurt. "Our hands are in daily contact with various pathogens that can cause the flu, gastrointestinal infections or respiratory tract infections.
How do pathogens enter the body?
But how do pathogens get their hands in our bodies? "They are transmitted through a chain of contacts," says Heidrun Thaiss, head of the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA). "If, for example, a seized patient sneezes in the hand, the virus stays in the palm of the hand.If the patient gives the hand to another person, the viruses can continue to migrate."
If this person then places his hand on his mouth, nose or eyes, he can catch his mucous membranes. And the touch of the hand is not the only way to contract the infection: pathogens can also hide on the bars of attack in the subway, on touch screens or door handles.
Should not we wash our hands constantly? "No," said Kempf. "It's a place away from everyday life and not necessary." Nevertheless, there are many situations in everyday life in which handwashing should be mandatory. "After the toilet, anyway," says Kempf. "Even before cooking and before eating, your hands must be clean."
The favorite places for pathogens are also gyms. "After training, you must wash your hands thoroughly," Kempf advises. Heidrun Thaiss adds: "It's the same when we go home after a walk in the city, change diapers or come into contact with animals, garbage and feed."
Wash your hands
The faucet and the hands just below the bar are not enough. Heidrun Thaiss: "Many people do not wash their hands long enough and do not dry them." This is problematic because in a humid environment, microorganisms can better stand and multiply. Your tip: Dry your hands quickly after washing. Friction with the towel would also eliminate germs that still adhere to the hands.
Kempf also recommends using soap: "It removes fatty substances from the skin in which germs adhere." However, those who wash their hands regularly with soap may face a new problem: dry, itchy or flaky skin. "The water and soap attack the natural skin barrier," says Professor Philipp Babilas, dermatologist at the Skin Center of Regensburg.
To avoid this, wash your hands with a neutral pH liquid soap. Special soaps containing moisturizing substances are specially designed for particularly sensitive skin. "Patients with serious skin problems caused by soap and water, I sometimes recommend a pharmacy disinfectant, which lubricates the skin like a light greasy film," says Babilas. "Such a disinfectant is more compatible with the skin than repeated washing of hands."
The daily use of a disinfectant is not usually necessary, says Heidrun Thaiss. "This only makes sense if, for example, family members are infected with a bacterium such as Salmonella, colonized with multidrug-resistant pathogens or with highly contagious diseases such as norovirus."