Hand Washing & Kids: The "Dirt"

Published: August 03, 2016

By Michael Parry, MD, Director of Infectious Disease and the Thomas J. Bradsell Chair of Infectious Diseases, Stamford Hospital


Let’s admit... As adults, it can be challenging enough to wash our hands on a regular basis. In fact, only two thirds of us do this after we use the restroom. Yuck.

So what about our kids? As parents, this is where the “practice what you preach” rule comes into play. Wash your hands before eating or cooking, after using the bathroom, and after work or play.

Did you know? Over half of food-related illness outbreaks are caused by unwashed or poorly washed hands, according to the American Society for Microbiology. Hepatitis A and Norovirus outbreaks in daycare centers have been directly connected to lack of hand washing after changing diapers or using the bathroom or sharing toys.

Other pathogens, like E. coli and Shigella, have also been spread by lack of hand-washing. Washing hands also helps to prevent the spread of respiratory viral infections, impetigo, and conjunctivitis (pinkeye).

Teach your children to wash their hands before a meal, after using the bathroom, after playing, and after contact with animals. Show them how—all it takes is a little patience until the habit becomes second nature, according to the Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).

Children know when and why and how to wash their hands, but they forget to, APIC says. They will wash their hands if the dirt is the obvious kind like mud or finger paints. Less obvious dirt and germs tend to be ignored.

Stay tuned for the top techniques on teaching hand washing to your kids. It can be fun—we promise.


Featured Expert/ Author

1578535431 L

Infectious Disease

[#] miles from City, State Zipcode

More Blogs Like This

Our website uses cookies

This website uses cookies to give you the very best experience. Your continued use of this site is considered permission by you to use cookies in this manner. Please review our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use for more information about the data we collect and the types of cookies we use. Please note, if you link off our website to a 3rd party site of any kind, that website has its own terms and conditions.