Why proper handwashing is more necessary than ever
SINGAPORE—An exclusive, first-ever tour of the Safeguard Science Discovery headquarters here demonstrated the importance of keeping oneself clean to avoid diseases—some potentially life-threatening—from spreading.
The tour at the P&G headquarters in Singapore included restricted laboratory visits, where members of the press and mom-bloggers were shown how germs breed, and how Safeguard formulates its antibacterial GermShield+ soaps to prevent diseases in the household.
Safeguard, first formulated in 1966 as a way to remove germs and inhibit germ regrowth, remains as effective today as it was back then. Leading health experts on germ protection for the family have been recommending Safeguard for more than 50 years, and the company continues to invest in research and development.
“Some germs that can infect us when we do not wash our hands are rotavirus and rhinovirus,” said Angelica Caranza, section head of the Global Microbiology Capability Organization of P&G Innovation Center in Singapore.
“Rotavirus is the leading cause of acute gastroenteritis, resulting in the death of over 600,000 children annually worldwide,” Caranza pointed out. “Rhinovirus causes the common cold. Other germs, such as E. coli, shigella and campylobacter can cause diarrhea, which can be life-threatening due to severe dehydration.”
Proper handwashing and bathing using Safeguard is the first step to protect yourself and your family from germ threats. The Germshield+ also inhibits germ regrowth for up to 24 hours.
Did you know, for example, that our bodies host as many as 10,000 bacterial species, and that the number of bacteria that live in and on us outnumber our own human cells 10 to 1?
When a coworker reports for work sick, about half of the commonly touched surfaces in the office will become infected with the virus by lunchtime.
Among the dirtiest objects you can own is your phone, which can have up to 4,200 bacteria from fecal contamination. A single bacteria cell in the bathroom can multiply into one billion cells overnight. That said, a shopping cart can contain more fecal E. coli than a supermarket toilet.
“Normal skin is colonized by large numbers of commensal microorganisms or resident bacteria that live on the surface of the skin,” Caranza said. “Most of these microorganisms are harmless or are even beneficial to their host. However, there are microorganisms known as transient bacteria such as S. aureus, S. pneumoniae, E. coli, and K. pneumoniae that can be picked up by the hands from different surfaces in our surroundings.”
These can be easily transferred to the mouth, nose and eyes since people touch their faces several times an hour. These germs can cause skin infections, respiratory diseases and diarrhea.
“Some microbes are pathogenic, which means they can make a healthy person sick, such as the bacteria salmonella typhi, which causes typhoid fever,” Caranza added. “There are also opportunistic germs that are usually harmless to healthy hosts but can cause sickness if the immune system is compromised. Some strains of S. aureus can also cause a skin infection when the skin barrier is damaged.”
Good handwashing habits, Caranza said, are an effective and simple way to prevent the transmission of germs, as recommend by the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP).
“It is important to follow the effective steps to handwashing, which are: wet, lather, scrub, rinse and dry,” she noted.
Caranza added that P&G Phils., with the Department of Health and Department of Education, was able to teach good handwashing practices to over 1.5 million schoolchildren this school year through the Superkid and Commander Safeguard School Caravan.
She said Safeguard will continue to reach out and educate even more children in the coming school year on the importance of proper handwashing in minimizing the transmission of germs in schools and in keeping oneself healthy.
US CDCP has recommendations on when people should wash their hands: Before, during and after preparing food; before eating food; before and after caring for someone who is sick; before and after treating a cut or wound; after using the toilet; after changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet; after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing; after touching an animal, animal feed or animal waste; after handling pet food or pet treats; and after touching garbage.
“There are different types of diseases that we can get by not washing our hands. Some are life-threatening, while others are not. Skin infections such as boils and impetigo that can be caused by S. aureus are not life-threatening, but can significantly impact the quality of life,” Caranza said.
Safeguard with Germshield+ technology can fight a broad spectrum of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria and fungi, preventing more types of sickness, malodor and skin infection.
Is there such thing as being too clean, or does being “too clean” compromise the immune system in any way?
“‘Too clean’ may be subjective, as it depends on personal habits and environments. What is widely agreed on by experts is that the immune system can be susceptible to a variety of illnesses, and good hand hygiene is essential to reducing the incidence of sickness and spreading germs to others,” Caranza said.
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