New Delhi, Oct 15: As the only possible way to beat the coronavirus before its vaccine is invented is through maintaing personal hygiene, the significance of global handwashing day has increased several folds this year.
Ever since the outbreak of coronavirus, multiple hand-washing challenges have been doing rounds on the internet with several celebrated personalities took up the challenge to spread awareness about the importance of hand-washing to combat the highly contagious virus. To understand how the pandemic has made hand-washing more important than ever, ANI spoke to health experts on the occasion of global handwashing day.
"Hands are the main pathways of germ transmission in general or during health care. Proper hand hygiene is the single most important means for preventing the spread of infection," said Dr Soumya Reddy V, Consultant - General Physician, Apollo Telehealth.
The action of hand antisepsis practice is generally performed either by hand rubbing with an alcohol-based formulation (Ethanol-based or isopropyl alcohol-based formulations) or handwashing with plain or antimicrobial soap and water for 20 seconds or more.
When asked about the significance of washing hands for the time period of 20 seconds or more, Dr Inder Kumar Kasturia, Consultant, Family Medicine at Aakash Healthcare said, "When we rub our hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or more, it rips the outer layer of the virus and enables the components of the soap to kill it."
This can help in killing the potential coronavirus molecules on the surface of our hands. "Washing hands with only water may not be helpful, nor will it help if we just touch the water and dry our hands," added Dr Inder.
Knowing the importance of handwashing, the World Health Organisation had rolled out a global campaign 'SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands.' "Effective infection prevention and control measures like hand hygiene are crucial to ensure health facilities do not become hubs of COVID-19 transmission, and to reducing healthcare-associated infections from other pathogens, which account for an estimated 8 million deaths globally each year," Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia had said in a media statement.
Meanwhile, Dr Inder said hand washing is a critical step to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. But many are not aware of when to wash them. "On occasions of coming in contact with common sources of contact or surfaces in crowded places, where access to soap and water is unavailable use hand rubs, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitisers," stressed Dr Soumya.
She further said overenthusiastic hand cleaning practice is also harmful. "Excessive hand washing can cause dermatitis due to the chemicals in wash and rubs used. It can disrupt the integrity of the skin surface and cause more harm than benefit," said Dr Soumya adding, the excessive use of methanol-based hand wash can cause Methanol toxicity.
She suggested using the right amount of alcohol percentage a minimum of 75 per cent alcohol (ethanol or propanol) to attain proper sanitisation after its use.
Lastly, both the doctors echoed that proper education about hand hygiene is essential to avoid unintended misuse or repeated use even without coming into contact with any contaminated surface for hours together might lead to unwanted antimicrobial resistance in the future.
Started in 2008, Global Handwashing Day is an annual global awareness day promoting handwashing with soap as an easy, effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.
The Day was founded by the Global Handwashing Partnership and is an opportunity to design, test and replicate creative ways to encourage people to wash their hands with soap at critical times. Global Handwashing Day is celebrated every year on October 15.