Why Should We Wash Our Hands Before Meals?
We should wash our hands before meals as a protection against infections. We live in a world full of germs (micro-organisms or microbes) and those which are dangerous to us prefer to live and multiply in organic material. So it is wise to remove as many as possible before coming into contact with food.
Most of what are commonly called germs are harmless and some are even beneficial. Others, which are called pathogenic (disease producing), invade the body and live by feeding off body tissues. Bacteria, which are tiny single celled organisms, cause diseases such as diphtheria, cholera, leprosy, whooping-cough, typhoid fever, tetanus and scarlet fever, etc.
Viruses are so small that scientists can see them only under immensely powerful electron microscopes. Yet they are responsible for an enormous range of human diseases, from colds to rabies.
In hospitals, antisepsis and asepsis are used to maintain standards of hygiene. Antisepsis aims to destroy germs already present in a wound by applying chemicals. Asepsis keeps the germs away from wounds through the sterilization of the surgeon’s hands, instruments, dressings and every other possible source of any infection.
The antiseptic system was introduced into surgery by Lord Lister (1827-1912), who worked on the discoveries of the French scientist Louis Pasteur (1822-95). At first he used pure carbolic acid, which was too strong and often damaged human tissue. Then better disinfectants were discovered. The method of asepsis began with the sterilization of instruments by superheated steam. Penicillin and other new drugs have made the control of germs much less difficult.
So when are the best times to wash your hands?
- when your hands are dirty
- before eating or touching food (like if you’re helping cook or bake, for example)
- after using the bathroom
- after blowing your nose or coughing
- after touching pets or other animals
- after playing outside
- before and after visiting a sick relative or friend