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Health Tips Author: Staff Editor Last Updated: Dec 18, 2013 - 4:44:51 PM

Beat the Germs This Holiday Season with Good Hand Hygiene

By Staff Editor
Dec 18, 2013 - 4:39:33 PM

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( - Washington, DC, December 18, 2013 -- The holiday season is a time for enjoying the company of our family and friends, marathon mall shopping to look for that perfect present, office parties, and interaction with many members of our community. It is a season that brings the irresistible smell of cookies, pies, and breads. A lot of handshakes and hugs are shared during this time as everyone makes it a point to gather in celebration.

Coincidentally, illnesses such as colds and the flu tend to flourish during this time as well. And who wants to miss out on spending time with others or tasting those delectable treats that beg for a bite?

During this very busy time of year, it is important to clean your hands frequently.

Hand washing: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. That's about as long as it takes to sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice. Scrub your hands vigorously; use friction while covering all surfaces of the hands, including fingers. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there currently is not enough data to show a benefit to using antibacterial soap over regular soap, and new safety information suggests that widespread use of antibacterial soaps can have an impact on the development of bacterial resistance.

Using alcohol-based hand rub: If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand rub containing at least 60 percent alcohol. Squirt a dime to quarter-size amount in the palm of your hand and then rub all surfaces of your hands and fingers until dry.

Recommended times to clean hands include:

  • Before eating
  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • After using the restroom
  • After coughing, sneezing, or caring for someone who is ill
  • After taking out the garbage
  • After petting animals

Also - don't forget your cough etiquette - make sure to cough into your sleeve and not your hand to avoid spreading germs.

So, have fun this holiday season, and remember that the easiest way to prevent the spread of infection is to clean your hands! Happy Holidays!

For more information:

APIC - Infection Prevention and You

CDC - Wash your hands

FDA -- Taking Closer Look at 'Antibacterial' Soap

World Health Organization - Clean care is safer care

Henry the Hand - Four principles of hand awareness

APIC's mission is to create a safer world through prevention of infection. The association's more than 15,000 members direct infection prevention programs that save lives and improve the bottom line for hospitals and other healthcare facilities. APIC advances its mission through patient safety, implementation science, competencies and certification, advocacy, and data standardization. Visit APIC online at Follow APIC on Twitter: Facebook: For information on what patients and families can do, visit APIC's Infection Prevention and You website at

APIC - the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology - has experts that can discuss hand hygiene and antibacterial vs. regular hand soaps.

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