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Today is World Hand Hygiene Day

5 May is World Hand Hygiene Day. Hand hygiene is critical to infection prevention and patient safety in care settings

Published: 4 May 2021

A strong emphasis on hand hygiene is having a positive result on stopping the spread of infection in care settings.

Department of Health research shows that 96% of people are washing their hands more often as a result of COVID-19.

Professor Martin Cormican, HSE National Lead for Antibiotic Resistance and Infection Control says:

“We know that people tend to revert to previous habits so it is vitally important that we all understand that hand hygiene is not just for COVID-19 it’s for life”

Dr. Nuala O’Connor, GP, says:

"All GPs have seen a dramatic decrease in the numbers of people who are suffering from respiratory infections.  We have not had a flu season in Ireland this year and many parents will identify with the fact that their young children have not had the normal 6- 10 viral illnesses they normally get every year. 

Much of this is down to good hand hygiene. 

We want people to keep on going with their hand hygiene, help your children to learn good hand hygiene and help us to stop the spread of COVID-19 and other infections."

Watch - Help your children to learn good hand hygiene and help us to stop the spread of COVID-19 and other infections.

You can help protect yourself and your family from an infection or superbug.

Wash your hands properly and often

  • After coughing or sneezing
  • Before and after preparing food and eating
  • After using the toilet or changing a child’s nappy
  • If you were in contact with someone who has COVID-19, fever or respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing)
  • Before and after being in a crowd (especially an indoor crowd)
  • On entering and before leaving buildings, including your home or anyone else's home
  • After touching  animals or animal waste
  • Before and after visiting someone in a hospital or residential setting

Regular use of a hand moisturiser will protect your hands from the drying effects of hand hygiene products. If you have dry skin or a skin condition, apply moisturiser after washing and drying your hands.

Watch this video on proper handwashing

Watch - We often think we have washed our hands properly but have a look at this short experiment and you will be surprised.

Tips for stopping infections spreading at home

The goal is to find a good balance between keeping your hands clean when it’s most important without limiting your enjoyment of life. 

Particularly important times to wash your hand are:

  • When you have been in contact with a person or an animal with an infection
  • When you get back to your home from being out and about or at work, especially if your work involves a lot of contact with people or animals
  • Before starting to prepare or handle food
  • After touching raw meat including poultry
  • Before eating food
  • After using the toilet and after changing nappies

Technology hygiene

Research has shown that PCs, keyboards, phones are full of bacteria – a mouse has an average of 260 bacteria per centimetre squared, a keyboard has 511 and the mouthpiece of a telephone has an impressive 3,895. Make sure you clean your tech equipment even if you are working from home during the COVID19 pandemic.

Get more information

Find more information about PPE here

There are lots of tips on hand hygiene on hse.ie/handhygiene