The Best Way to Avoid the Flu is in Your Hands

Do you know what the number one way to boost your immune system is? Is it taking vitamins? Eating plenty of vegetables? Getting outside in the sun? Exercising?

All of those things are extremely important, but they are not the number one way to boost your immune system. According to a study published in the British Journal of Nursing, simple hand washing, when done correctly, is still the number one way to fight off flu viruses and other nasty illnesses at any time of year.

Hand washing is such an important part of illness prevention that it is still considered the best way to prevent the spread of illness in hospitals.

The BJN study found that of all the illness prevention methods used in hospitals, which included sanitizers, disinfecting agents and face masks, hand washing was still able to prevent the spread of infection the best. Simply by washing your hands you cut down on infection rates dramatically.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that educating individuals on the importance of hand washing has a huge effect on their health.

Regular hand washing, according to the CDC, decreases respiratory illnesses by up to 21 percent and reduces the number of people who get diarrheal infections by up to 58 percent.

If done regularly and properly, hand washing may even have greater benefits than these.

How to wash your hands

You may know all there is about proper hand washing, but it doesn’t hurt to go over it again. If you have children at home, make sure to share these illness-preventing hand-washing techniques with them:

  1. Wet your hands with warm running water.
  2. Add soap and rub your hands together to create a lather. Do this with your hands away from the water. Pay special attention to wrists, back of the hands, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
  3. Continue this for at least 20 seconds.
  4. Rinse your hands with warm running water to remove the soap.
  5. Dry your hands with a clean towel.

How often is hand washing necessary?

We hope you know to wash your hands after each restroom visit, after taking out the trash, or after handling raw meat. But the CDC states that this is not enough. According to the CDC, we should all wash our hands frequently throughout the day, especially…

  • before preparing any food
  • after handling food
  • before eating
  • after changing a diaper
  • after handling pet food
  • after touching a pet
  • after touching your face
  • after touching a keyboard
  • after sneezing, blowing your nose or coughing
  • before and after treating a wound
  • before and after caring for a sick person
  • after visiting a public location
  • after driving
  • after you return home from any location, particularly school or daycare

If you follow these hand-washing techniques this fall and winter, your chances of catching the flu, the common cold or any other viral illness will drop significantly.

And if your family members also follow these hand-washing practices, you may even be able to avoid all illnesses this fall and winter.