Cold temperatures facilitate germs spreading, making proper hand washing imperative
As we near the winter season, cold and flu cases are increasing. The upticks in sickness are aided by the conditions cold temperatures provide.
"The rhinovirus replicates more quickly during the winter or with the cooler temperatures. And people are inside more because they don't want to go out in the cold, and they are in closer proximity with each other," Kathy Dodd, nurse practitioner at CHI Memorial Convenient Care Atrium on Gunbarrel Rd, said
This proximity means more touching and spreading of germs from sneezing and coughing.
Additionally, in the winter, a lot of viruses are not killed indoors because there is not as much sunshine reaching inside.
However, cold temperatures do have a benefit.
"In fact, going into cold temperatures or ending your nice hot shower with cold water stimulates the cells that fight viruses,” Dodd stated.
You should also stay hydrated, reduce sugar intake, get plenty of sleep and exercise. All of these help boost your immune system to fight illnesses, but the best preventative is washing your hands thoroughly.
"You get your hands wet with warm water, not hot, so you don't dry out your skin and make it cracked, which would attract or trap more viruses. Apply the soap and rub all the surfaces of your hands for 15 to 30 seconds,” Dodd explained.
That's about the length of the songs "Happy Birthday" or the "ABC's." Then, you should rinse and dry your hands thoroughly. Drying is a vital part and is best done with paper towels, which you can then use to turn off the faucet.
During the interview, we ran an experiment to see if I learned proper hand washing technique. Dodd sprinkled pretend germ powder onto my hands which I rubbed all over them.
By shining a black light on my hands, the powder glowed, representing the germs we all have on our hands every day.
Then, following her guidance, I washed my hands with warm water, lathered with soap making sure to thoroughly scrub all parts of my hands and under my nails. After rinsing and drying, we shined the black light again to find my hands no longer glowing. Success! I washed off the illness-causing germs.
If people do not take the proper time to wash, they often miss the side of their thumbs, between the fingers and don't go high up enough on their wrists. The wrists are especially missed in cold weather with long sleeves and jackets. Also, remember to get underneath your fingernails, too.
"If you don't have access to a sink, hand sanitizer is also helpful for most germs and viruses," Dodd added. "There are some that cannot be killed with hand sanitizer."
Therefore, classic hand washing is still the best way to keep from getting sick. You should always wash your hands before eating, after using the bathroom and after blowing your nose and throwing away the tissue.