Hand-Washing: Care Instructions

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It is important for caregivers to wash their hands properly. This is the single best way to prevent the spread of infections. Hand-washing can help keep you from getting sick. It is easy, doesn't cost much, and it works.

Make sure that you and your caregivers follow safe hand-washing routines. Caregivers may include health care workers or family members at home or in a care facility. You can talk to them about this information on hand-washing.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Caregivers should wash their hands with soap and water:
    • When their hands are dirty, especially after being exposed to body fluids. This includes blood.
    • When their hands may have been exposed to germs that could spread infection.
    • After they touch broken skin, sores, or wound bandages.
    • After they use the bathroom.
  • At other times, caregivers can use an alcohol-based gel sanitizer or soap and water to clean hands. This should be done:
    • Before and after any contact with you.
    • After they take off gloves.
    • Before they handle a device that touches your body (even if gloves are used).
    • After they touch any objects near you, such as medical equipment, lights, or doorknobs.
    • Before they handle medicine or prepare food.

Proper hand-washing for caregivers

  • When using an alcohol-based gel sanitizer, fill your palm with the gel. Then spread it all over your hands. Rub your hands together until they are dry.
  • When washing hands with soap and water:
    • Wet your hands with running water, and apply soap.
    • Rub your hands together to make a lather. Scrub well for at least 20 seconds.
    • Pay special attention to your wrists, the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your fingernails.
    • Rinse your hands well under running water.
    • Use a clean towel to dry your hands, or air-dry your hands. You may want to use a clean towel as a barrier between the faucet and your clean hands when you turn off the water.
  • If you use bar soap, use small bars. Set the soap on a rack that lets water drain.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter C292 in the search box to learn more about "Hand-Washing: Care Instructions".

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.