I confess. I have become a germaphobe in my advanced ago. I don't mind saying so especially these days. I wash my hands every time I come home from a public place and am so grossed out by people coughing and sniveling and sneezing without regard to others in the same air space that I will turn around and walk out of that space. Sometimes I think that I am being ridiculous but most of the time I honor my caution.
I know there was a time when I did not pull down my sleeve to cover my hand to turn a public knob or use my elbow to push open a public door. I've tried remembering whether there was a point at which I suddenly became highly conscious of keeping my hands clean but I can't really pinpoint it. It was probably a gradual process.
That being said, I probably turned a corner when I came down with a long and horrid flu virus after cramming myself into a room full of children for a Henry Winkler workshop in a small indie book store. Never again will I attend a children's event. Pity but truth. Still, it's not only children who are germy.
I remember watching an episode of ER during one of its last seasons in which a staph infection was running through the facility. It was determined that an orderly in the ER was not washing his hands. At all. The scene I remember was of one of the doctors instructing and supervising his hand washing. Golly, I thought... How is it possible that hospital workers do not wash their hands or even understand how to or why it's necessary?
I remember my father washing his hands in the basement sink with Fels Naptha. We always had bars of that around the house. That stuff was super harsh. I could no longer use that on my skin today unless it was the last soap available. However, I'm fortunate in that my parents were both pretty keen on my hand washing.
Now I use Dr. Bronner's Castile liquid soaps most of the time. I also travel with charcoal soap and, if I pick up a sample, a small bar of some nice, fatty French olive oil soap. I always keep a little nail brush at each of my sinks.
I also wear gloves whenever possible especially "rubber" gloves while washing dishes. The truth is that my fingers have become almost allergic to water. The skin around my nails splits and my fingers break out in a sort of dermatitis rash. I finally found a solution after trying all sorts of creams, ointments and lotions to no avail but I'll write about that at the bottom of this post.
The CDC lays out clear instructions and here's what they say:
HOW TO WASH YOUR HANDS
1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap. If the water is too hot, you'll damage your skin.
2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap.
3. Keep rubbing your hands together for at least 20 seconds. After the very important length of 20 seconds, I pick up my nail brush to get around my nails and cuticles. If you use a nail brush, make sure that you rinse that, too.
4. Rinse your hands well (that means thoroughly) under clean, running water. Rinse all those germs off. Thoroughly.
5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them. It's better to pat your skin dry rather than rubbing. Patting dry reduces potential irritation.
6. If you can't use running water and soap, use hand sanitizer and cover all surfaces of both hands. Read my upcoming post on how to make home made hand sanitizer.
If your skin is sensitive, dry or delicate, follow with a protective cream or ointment. I have finally, after considerable trial and error found a product that works for me. It's Dr. PawPaw Original Balm which is the Brit version of the Aussie Lucas PawPaw Ointment. I'm planning a post on these product because it contains Vaseline which I've avoided for years. That's why I'm planning a post devoted to these products after I've had time to investigate the whole mineral oil conundrum. But, hey, the PawPaw ointment works for me like a miracle. Plus, it is a protective film.
The whole point of following good hand washing with a moisturizing and, ideally protective film is that excessively dry skin and/or broken skin will make you more susceptible to infections.
If you are a healer, you must know how important it is to wash your hands before and after every client or process. It's even a good process simply for the energetic value.
Okay. 'Nuff said. Wash your bleeping hands. Regularly!
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