MadSci Network: Medicine

Re: Handwashing

Area: Medicine
Posted By: Nick Bourbaki, Collective Enigma Elucidator
Date: Sun Jan 26 20:34:12 1997

Hi Trey -

There are actually two issues - "killing as many germs as possible" and "killing as many 'bad' germs as possible." You have many species of bacteria that normally live on your skin. For the most part, they do you no harm, they even have some benefit in that their presence makes it more difficult for 'bad bacteria' - ones that can cause disease - to colonize the body. You can never get rid of all the bacteria on your hands, but you can take measures to get as many 'bad bacteria' acquired from other sources from staying on your hands.

They best thing to do is wash with an 'anti-microbial soap.' Many such soaps are sold in the grocery store - they'll usually say they're 'antimicrobial' in nature. Use sufficeint soap to generate a good lather, be sure to wash under your nails and in between your fingers. Wash the soap off, then dry with a clean paper towl (and put it in the trash!). Surgeons and doctors go through a more rigorous procedure, but I presume you're not going to be performing open-heart surgery on anyone.. :)


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