As cold and flu season arrives, many families are becoming more diligent when it comes to washing their hands. We have all heard the rules for washing hands, but to keep ourselves and our kids from getting sick this holiday season, some families might be wondering how to do it right. When you restock the bathroom with gingerbread and cinnamon-scented soaps, how do you know you’re using the right kind to stay healthy?
Concho Valley ER is here to help with these concerns. Today, we want to focus on the most effective soap to use when washing your hands, faces, and bodies. When you wash with the proper soap, you can not only lower your risks of infection but make your family and your community a healthier place to be.
It All Comes Down to Soap and Water
No matter when you wash your hands or why you’re going to need two things: warm water and soap. While this seems pretty self-explanatory, there are a few key details that many people overlook, especially at this time of year.
When the weather gets cold, it can take longer for sink water to get warm. Since no one wants to wait around just to wash their hands, many people will quickly wash with cold water, and warm their hands up afterward. The problem with this is that cold water doesn’t kill germs as effectively as warm water does. Washing with cold water can make your skin vulnerable and chilly. If you’re having trouble getting the water warm, then try turning it on preemptively. Turn the sink on before you use the toilet, and when you’re washing your hands, it will be warmer. The same goes for washing your hands before a meal. Try getting the faucet running on low a few minutes before dinner time and have it ready for everyone to scrub up in.
The second important factor is your soap. Between bars, gels, and foams, we’re spoiled by all the choices at the grocery store. The best choice might be surprising. Amongst the various labels and advertisements about anti-microbial or antibacterial soap, the best kind of soap to wash your hands with is any plain-old-fashioned soap.
It is in fact safer to use average soaps and avoid the antibacterial brands entirely.
Why You Should Avoid Antibacterial Soap
It sounds counter-productive when experts advise not to use antibacterial soap, but over many years of research, there have actually been studies that show that these kinds of soap can actually be harmful to public health. Studies have shown that, while antibacterial soap kills germs on your hands when you wash them, it can also breed stronger, more medicine resistant bacteria in the long run.
Bacteria that resist medication can sound frightening to many people. After all, bacteria cause diseases and diseases are supposed to have cures, right? For the vast majority of known pathogens, this is the case, but bacteria are living organisms and over time, they can build up immunities, just like people do. The small amounts of antibiotics which are added to antibacterial, or anti-microbial, soap give bacteria exposure to the medicines which usually weaken them. It will kill many of the bacteria someone might have on their hands, but the more exposure bacteria get to antibiotics like these, the more likely they are to become immune to them, and then be harder to treat.
Antibacterial soaps also do not kill viruses, which are another kind of infection that is very different from bacteria. Viruses, unlike bacteria, cannot be harmed by antibiotics at all, so the soaps that advertise this will nor be any more effective at preventing the flu than your average hand soap.
The average hand soap is already designed to rid your hands of bacteria and viruses. It is effective at what it does, and when compared to the special antibiotic soaps, can sometimes be less expensive. Since regular soap does the job, without running the risk of creating medicine-resistant bacteria, it is the best choice when it comes to washing your hands.
Proper Post-Wash Care
Now that your family is equipped with the right soap and remembers to use warm water for washing, you want to be good to your hands after they’ve been lathered. This time of year, skin can already be dried out by the winter air, and when you wash your hands, you strip away its natural oils. This can dry skin out and make them more likely to crack and scrape, as well as make them more susceptible to germs.
Keep your skin nice and strong by remembering to use a bit of lotion after washing up. This will help your skin to stay hydrated and more resistant to illnesses.
As cold and flu season comes in, Concho Valley ER is here to help every family with their emergency health needs. We encourage parents to teach their kids how to wash their hands properly and encourage everyone to indulge in their favorite holiday soap scents as you scrub before family meals. With the right soap, warm water, and a bit of lotion, your hands can stay clean and fresh and fighting the flu! But in the event of any unexpected illnesses, our doctors are ready with concierge-level care 24/7. Even on holidays, our doors will be open to help your family keep the holidays happy.