Wash Your Damn Hands: Advice from my Immunologist

By Wanda

Concerning Coronavirus Disease 2019-2020 (COVID-19)

Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) has hit the world stage hard and fast. Since the first outbreak was seen in Wuhan, China through its current rapid spread in the United States, we have all watched the infections and death tolls rise, as well as store shelves empty of everything from basic necessities like toilet paper to face masks.

Because I have several immune system issues, I have an immunology medical team and a team from the infusion center where I receive booster shots and immunoglobulin infusions. My team reached out and walked me though the basics of what to do and not to do during a virus outbreak.

First, it should be noted that COVID-19 is a virus, just like the common cold and the flu. As with all viruses, non-pharmaceutical precautions and interventions are the most effective. When there is a particularly bad strain of flu going around, taking measures such as limiting errands, avoiding crowds, washing hands, not touching your face, and using hand sanitizer when necessary are all important. The same precautions apply to COVID-19.

The most important, most effective step we can take with ourselves and for those we come into contact with is to simply WASH YOUR HANDS with liquid soap. Hands should be washed using liquid soap and warm water paying close attention to all parts of the hand including your wrist and under fingernails. It has been recommended to wash half way up to one’s elbow, wash each individual finger, and make sure to get both the under and upper sides of the hand.

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When you are finished washing your hands, use a paper towel to turn the water off and to open the door. Avoiding skin contact with doorknobs, railings, and other communal “aids” is important and as easy and making sure to push doors open with your hip or elbow, use Kleenex or paper towels on handles and hand railings, and never touching the bathroom door barehanded after you’ve washed up.

For instances when you cannot wash your hands, hand sanitizer can be substituted. As you’ve probably already seen, sanitizer has become difficult to find in stores. If you need to make your own, 3 parts rubbing alcohol to one part gel (such as Aloe Vera) will get you the right ratio of germ-killing sanitizer. Spray sanitizers such as Lysol should be used on surfaces that cannot be wiped down with cleansers containing bleach.

Once your hands are clean, it becomes a matter of working outward, cleaning and sanitizing as you go and not shaking hands or making any kind of skin contact with others. Adding a bit of bleach to your dishwater when washing dishes by hand isn’t necessary as long as you wash with hot water. The water should be hot enough for you to need rubber gloves. If you have a dishwasher, now would be the time to use it and use the ‘heated dry’ setting.

It is important to note that breathing masks will NOT help you avoid COVID-19, and buying boxes of them can negatively impact the ability of those who need them to purchase them. What to buy instead? Liquid soap, paper towels, tissues, spray disinfectants like Lysol, disinfecting cleansers like Clorox, rubbing alcohol, plastic gloves, good old vitamin C, elderberry, and zinc.

These are the guidelines and lists I was given, and I want to share with you. Remember: KEEP CALM AND WASH YOUR HANDS!

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/summary.html

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