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Most of us learned the fun fact that the dirtiest part of a dog is his/her mouth, but the lesser known fun fact is that the dirtiest part of the human body is our hands.

While everyone gets the message to head to your local health source for a flu shot in September and October, we often do not know that September 15-21 is the International Clean Hands Week, set aside to remind us that the surest way to stay healthy is to wash your hands. Wash Your Hands. WASH YOUR HANDS.

But it also matters HOW you wash your hands. So here is your reminder:

  1. Wet your hands and wrist area with running cool or slightly warm water.
  2. Add soap. The type of soap does not matter! It is how you scrub with it that makes a difference.
  3. Scrub palm to palm, between your fingers, finger nails gently scrub against the opposite palm, scrub around each wrist and the back of each hand. You should have a great lather. Each time you scrub should last about 20 seconds – Sing “Happy Birthday to You” twice!
  4. Rinse each hand and arm in running cool or slightly warm water.
  5. Let your hands air dry.

No water or soap? Use a popular hand gel. There are two different types of gels. One is essentially Isopropyl alcohol. This needs to rub in all over your hands, between fingers, nails and wrists. Let it air dry. The second is a popular type of gel that forms a barrier between what is on your hands and what you are about to handle. This is effective, but only if used properly. This needs to be spread all over each hand, between fingers under nails and around wrists. It will feel slightly sticky and will take more time to dry. Do NOT wipe if off! You need this to dry on your hands to create the barrier. Regardless of which type of gel you deploy, make sure that you wash with soap and water as soon as it becomes available.

There are other places that hands should never to. It is referred to as the “T Zone” of your body – eyes nose and mouth. It is an important part of staying healthy to break the habit of biting nails, fingers in noses and rubbing eyes. The membranes in these areas are thin and often will have some little breaks that allow the germs straight off your hands to enter your body.

We also need to re-learn how to sneeze and cough! YES! Cover your nose and mouth to help catch the germy spores you are expelling, but DON’T use your hands as the block! Instead, sneeze and cough into the crook of you elbow. AND PLEASE stay home when you are sick! Environmental research indicates that one sneezy coughing employee will coat 90% of the commonly touched surfaces in an office within 24 hours of just being at the workplace!

If you still manage to come down with something, remember that your health insurance is there to help you get the care you need!