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Share a Kiss, But Don't Shake Hands

January 12, 2008 | 77,613 views
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handshake, infection control, hand washing techniques, infectionsA recent report warns that you are at far greater risk of passing on an infection by shaking someone's hand than by sharing a kiss.

The report also notes that regular handwashing may be more effective than drugs in preventing the spread of respiratory viruses such as influenza and SARS.

Germs that cause stomach infections such as salmonella, campylobacter and norovirus can also circulate directly from person to person via your hands. Stomach germs can also be passed on if you put your fingers in your mouth or forget to wash your hands before preparing food.

Breaking the chain of infection depends on how well you wash your hands.

 

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Infectious agents like bacteria and viruses are pervasive. They are in your home, in common shared areas such as your kitchen sink and counters, in your laundry, in your shower and tub – even your handbag commonly contains thousands of bacteria such as salmonella, E. coli, staph bacteria and more. You simply can’t escape them.

This is nothing to be afraid of. They are part of the normal ecology and it is important to know that you are designed to live in harmony with them, not to be fearful of them. 

The Easiest Way to Stop the Spread of Infection

Washing your hands frequently is the easiest way to wipe out germs and reduce your chances of becoming sickened by them. It has been shown time and time again that washing your hands with plain old soap and water can kill viruses that cause:

  • The common cold
  • Hepatitis A
  • Acute gastroenteritis
  • Other illnesses

In fact, studies have found that soap and water work better than the waterless, alcohol-based hand wipes and rubs. Antibacterial liquids and soaps should be avoided altogether. These products kill both good and bad bacteria, thereby contributing to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Furthermore, the active ingredient in most antibacterial products is triclosan, an antibacterial agent that not only kills bacteria and inhibits bacterial growth, but has also been shown to kill human cells. That would be the definition of “over-kill.”

As stated in this article, good hand hygiene is your best option in the event of a flu pandemic, for example.  

I would advise you to disregard their recommendation to follow up with vaccination once one becomes available, however. This is simply NOT good advice, and for a more in-depth explanation of why, I recommend you take the time to review my other article in today’s newsletter called, The Film About Vaccines You Simply Must See.

How to Wash Your Hands Effectively

The best hand-washing technique involves three steps: 

  • Use warm water
  • Work up a good lather all the way up to your wrists for at least 10 or 15 seconds
  • Don't forget to get all surfaces including the backs of your hands, wrists, between your fingers and an area often overlooked -- your fingernails 

Don’t become obsessive about washing your hands, however; if you wash them too frequently you can actually extract many of the protective oils in your skin, which can cause your skin to crack and bleed. It is important to realize that your skin is actually your primary defense against bacteria – not the soap.  

It is rare for a germ on your skin to cause a problem -- it is typically only an issue when you transfer that to your nose, mouth or an open wound like cracked skin. So obsessive-compulsive washing can actually increase your risk of getting sick by providing an entryway for potentially dangerous pathogens.

A Healthy Immune System is Your Best Defense

About 30 percent of all people carry methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) -- the bacteria that’s been linked to recent MRSA outbreaks in schools across the United States -- on their skin.

A recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that a swab of your forearm may reveal up to 182 species of bacteria (8 percent of which were unknown). So bacteria are a natural part of life. Many of these bacteria are good and essential for your very survival. Others, however, are bad and capable of making you sick.

Your first line of defense against all disease causing agents, such as pathogenic bacteria, is a strong immune system.

You can support your immune system by:

There’s no need to walk around sporting rubber gloves and a disinfectant spray if you follow the advice above, and it is by far your most effective way to stay healthy. 

When you follow the Take Control of Your Health program you build up your body’s immune system and are able to keep nearly every infection in proper balance so it does not cause any disease.  

However many view these infections as terrible evils that need to be avoided at all costs and wind up using dangerous toxic chemicals like antibacterial soaps and also removing much of the protective layer on their skin by washing their hands too frequently. 

So while it is certainly prudent to wash your hands, you need to be especially careful in the dry winter months and not use a soap that will actually worsen this condition.


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