Yes, you still need to wash your hands. Here’s why.
COVID-19 has reminded us all of the importance of washing our hands and following proper hygiene to prevent illness. However, with all of the changing rules and recommendations, it’s hard to understand what directives you should take to protect yourself and others.
When my roommates and I go to the grocery store, we can never remember if we need face masks (we do) or if more than one of us are allowed in the store at the time (we can, the store just has to pay attention to overall capacity). But the thing we all absolutely need to remember? Regularly and thoroughly washing our hands.
Many people have been replacing frequent hand washing with wearing disposable gloves. However, without extreme attention to proper glove use (which requires constantly changing gloves as we interact with different surfaces), gloves spread contagions just as much as dirty hands.
When and how to use gloves
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends you only need gloves when you are caring for someone who is sick. In most situations (like going to the grocery store), frequent use of hand sanitizer and washing hands before and after going to new locations is more effective, particularly when paired with other preventive measures like staying 6 feet away from each other and wearing a face mask in public.
If you are in a situation where glove use is preferred (like if you are caring for someone who is sick), be sure to follow the CDC’s recommendations for proper use and disposal of gloves. Remember, when healthcare professionals use gloves, they are using a new pair every time they interact with a new patient or go into a new exam room.
The CDC’s recommendation to properly dispose of gloves are:
- Grasp the outside of one glove at the wrist. Do not touch your bare skin.
- Peel the glove away from your body, pulling it inside out.
- Hold the glove you just removed in your gloved hand.
- Peel off the second glove by putting your fingers inside the glove at the top of your wrist.
- Turn the second glove inside out while pulling it away from your body, leaving the first glove inside the second.
- Dispose of the gloves safely. Do not reuse the gloves.
- Clean your hands immediately after removing gloves.
Gloves don’t mean you can stop washing your hands
In addition to using the gloves, it is still important to wash your hands after you remove them, as it is likely germs from the gloves touched your hands or wrists as you were removing the gloves. I’ve seen countless people pull an old pair of gloves out of their pocket and put them on before entering a grocery store, but can you imagine how many germs are in their pockets or how many things they have handled before entering the store?
To learn more about what you can do to protect yourself and others, go to coronavirusdiabetes.org and share what #BigLittleChanges you’re making.