Clean hands are essential to reducing infections, at home and when your child is in the hospital. Hand hygiene is the simplest and most effective way to keep your child healthy. While there are many national and international recommendations on hand hygiene for the hospital setting, there is very little information for care at home, especially for children. See www.handhygiene.ca for more information on why handwashing is important, antimicrobial resistance and other related topics.
In general, clean your hands as part of your routine preparation before and after providing any type of care to your child. Also clean your hands before and after:
using the washroom,
Get into the habit of cleaning your hands as you enter your home and encourage family members and caregivers to do the same.
Depending upon the age and abilities of your child, encourage your child to develop the healthy habit of regular hand cleaning. Ensure that your child’s hands are clean before and after:
using the washroom,
playing with toys, inside and outside your home,
leaving and returning home,
participating in part of the care (for example, helping to hold a piece of equipment).
Both alcohol based handrubs, also called hand sanitizers and traditional soap and water are effective ways to clean your hands. The most important part of hand hygiene is to develop the habit of cleaning your hands. Compared to soap and water, alcohol based handrubs are better at removing bacteria (germs) from your hands, work faster and usually cause less skin irritation. Alcohol based handrubs can be convenient also, as you do not need to have access to running water or paper towels.
If your hands (or your child’s hands) are visibly dirty, then use soap and water, using the methods shown below. Use soap and water to clean your hands before and after providing any care involving possible contact with urine, stool, blood or any other body fluids.
How to handrub
Apply a palmful of sanitizer.
Rub hands palm to palm.
Rub each palm over the back of the other hand.
Interlace your fingers and rub.
As you rub, your hands will dry.
How to handwash
Scrub well with soap for at least 20 seconds.
Dry your hands with a clean disposable towel,
and then shut off the tap using the towel.