The best way to prevent the spread of germs (bacteria and viruses) and prevent infections is to remove or kill harmful bacteria and viruses by a process called “hand hygiene.” Proper hand hygiene involves either washing hands with soap and water or decontaminating (killing germs on the hands) with an alcohol-based hand rub. When you clean your hands, you remove many germs. Germs are very small; you can’t see them but they spread disease. Germs are everywhere.
For example, they are on door handles, tables, phones, pencils – things that people touch. Our hands constantly come into contact with germs. That’s why having clean hands will help keep you healthy. To prevent you and your child from getting unwanted germs, wash hands with soap and water or use a waterless alcohol-based rub every time you enter and leave the hospital room.
It is important to use running water when washing your hands. Running water is an important part of washing away germs. Special Towelettes or hand wipes should only be used when running water is not nearby. Water basins should not be used instead of running water. Outbreaks of illnesses have been linked with sharing wash water and wash basins or sinks.
|Wash Hands with Soap and Water||
Wash Hands with Soap and Water
or Use a Waterless Alcohol-Based Hand Rub
Artificial nails* can hide dangerous bacteria and should be avoided, especially if you are doing dressing changes or caring for a child who has lowered immunity, a central IV line, or a feeding tube. It’s best to use clear polish on natural nails or leave them unpolished.
* Includes bonding, tips, wrappings, tapes, inlays and overlays
For more information on cleanliness and hygiene, ask your child’s nurse for these Helping Hands: Dental: Teeth and Gum Care, HH-IV-4; Personal Hygiene, HH-IV-58; Bathing Your Baby, HH-IV-2; and Lice: Treatment and Prevention, HH-I-49.
Hand Hygiene (PDF)
HH-IV-80 6/01, Revised 2/12 Copyright 2001-2010, Nationwide Children’s Hospital