Washing one’s hands has become a popular topic of most conversations regarding personal hygiene in recent years, and it still surprises me how many people go without washing their hands frequently and especially after prepping food, using the washroom or contaminating one’s hands with something potentially painful, like hot sauce!
I’ll admit I’m usually guilty of this, at least a couple of times a month. I’ll prep a plate of nachos with cheese, varying ingredients and hot sauce and sit on the couch to watch a show or a movie with my wife. I’ll be snacking away, happy and content with the deliciousness of my nachos when, all of a sudden, my eye will itch. Absentmindedly, I’ll reach up and rub my eye. Within seconds and for minutes after, my eye is a fountain of tears and irritation as the hot sauce residue teaches me the importance of washing my hands before touching my face.
I wish I could say I’ve learned my lesson, but I unfortunately repeat this vaudeville routine on a regular basis. One of the main ingredients in most hot sauces is capsaicin, related to capsicum, which is the primary debilitating ingredient in pepper spray. And I rub that shit into my eyes on the reg… Are you sure y’all should be listening to ANYTHING I say? But I digress…
The reality is that your hands carry a shit-ton of germs. And yes, that pun IS intended, considering fecal bacteria is the most common thing on your hands, your phone, etc… Most people don’t wash their hands properly, and many that do fail to scrub up for as long as is necessary for proper hygiene. The big problem is that we use our hands for everything. We touch our faces, eyes, nose, mouth… often without even realizing it. And whatever nasty bugs we have on them will find a good home in any of those openings.
The next problem is that failing to properly wash one’s hands can lead to the propagation of those germs. By using our hands without properly washing them, we can potentially transfer germs and bacteria to food we prepare for our family or directly onto our children as we hug them and seek to protect them. And looking back on the funny story about putting hot sauce in my eye, there is another very unpopular condition that can be caused by dirty hands: pink eye!
Pink eye, or what’s known as infectious conjunctivitis, is usually caused by viruses but can also be caused by bacteria; such as the ones found on unwashed hands. I’ve been fortunate enough never to have pink eye, but it doesn’t sound like a spa treatment! And washing your hands regularly and frequently can go a long way towards helping to prevent it.
So, good hand washing practices are important, especially to help maintain proper health. Diabetics especially don’t need the added potential for germs and bacteria to cause infections and complications that could make us ill. The biggest challenge is trying to teach children. Trying to convince my 5-year old son why he has to go wash his hands before he eats, sleeps, touches the baby, etc is a battle unto itself…
Be sure to get your hands completely wet, scrub thoroughly with warm/hot water and soap for at least 20 seconds or more. Do this every time you’ve handled raw foods, did work outside, shook someone’s hands and especially after any and all bathroom use. And yes, you CAN overdo it. Washing your hands TOO much will scrub away oils needed to keep the skin healthy and cause dry, itchy skin. But you’d have to go a long way to reach that point. ☯