Hand Washing vs. Hand Rubbing to Prevent the Spread of Diseases

Just recently, the UAE launched a drive-thru testing centre, where up to 600 people can be tested daily to determine whether or not they are infected by the pandemic. Of course, even if our test results turn out negative, we shouldn’t forget the importance of good hygiene habits!

Among these habits are hand washing and hand rubbing, both of which are necessary for us to avoid any kind of communicable disease. But are we doing them properly? Let’s take a look at what health authorities in the country recommend regarding these two activities.

Hand Washing vs. Hand Rubbing to Prevent the Spread of Diseases

Wash and Rub Your Hands Clean for Good Health

The Ministry of Health and Prevention, in coordination with the Department of Health, the Dubai Health Authority, and the Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre, has released a publication about hand washing and disinfectants as measures for preventing the spread of diseases.

Based on this publication, we’d like to share the following topics about hand washing, hand rubbing, and sanitizers. Basically, health authorities recommend washing your hands with soap and water whenever possible, to reduce the amount of germs on your hands.

When should I wash my hands?

Many of us wash our hands before and after eating, but did you know that there are other times when we should wash our hands as well? These include the times:

    • Before, during, and after preparing food;
    • Before and after eating food;
    • Before and after caring for someone who is sick;
    • Before and after treating a wound or cut;
    • After using the toilet (don’t forget!);
    • After blowing your nose, sneezing, or coughing;
    • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child or elderly who has used the toilet;
    • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste;
    • After handling pet food or treats;
    • After handling garbage; and
    • After shopping or touching shopping carts at supermarkets.

What are the steps for hand washing?

Hand washing is more than just wetting your hands, lathering on some soap for a few seconds, and then washing the suds away! Ideally, the whole process should last between 40 and 60 seconds (or the time it takes for a person to sing the entire “Happy Birthday” song).

Here are the steps for proper hand washing, according to UAE health authorities:

Hand Washing vs. Hand Rubbing to Prevent the Spread of Diseases
Image Credit: doh.gov.ae

No soap and water? Do a “hand rub” instead.

If your hands are visibly soiled, washing with soap and water is a must. However, if your hands just need a “quick” clean (and there’s no soap and water available), using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer will do. Just make sure that your sanitizer contains a least 60 to 95 percent alcohol.

Cleaning the hands with sanitizer involves “hand rubbing” for at least 20 to 30 seconds. And according to UAE health authorities, here are the steps for proper hand rubbing:

Hand Washing vs. Hand Rubbing to Prevent the Spread of Diseases
Image Credit: doh.gov.ae

Once again, keep in mind that if your hands are visibly soiled or dirty, it is best to wash them with soap and water instead of a sanitizer.

Hand Washing vs. Hand Rubbing to Prevent the Spread of Diseases

Where can I get more health tips and information?

When it comes to health tips, it is important that we rely on credible sources, such as government health agencies. Here in the UAE, you can call these numbers for more information:

    • 800 1717 – “Estijaba” service at Department of Health operation centre
    • 800 11111 – Ministry of Health and Prevention
    • 800 342 – Dubai Health Authority

DISCLAIMER: The above guide is presented for information-sharing purposes only. To learn more about hand washing, hand rubbing, and other health tips, please visit the official website of the Department of Health.

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