Fact or myth: Often wash your hands is bad for your immune system

The International Day of hand Hygiene (5 may) does not exist for nothing: it can be for many people better, also with the Dutch. There are few people who have the recommended twenty seconds, their hands soaping. But what if you quite often and quite well your hands wash? Is that bad for your resistance?

Who his hands more washes than you need to notice for yourself: get your hands drying out. Marcel Zwietering, professor of food microbiology at Wageningen University & Research, says: “With only water to rinse the dirt from your hands, with soap, degrease your hands also. If you take too much fat off, you’ll get chapping and sores on your hands.” That is annoying, but is to avoid with a fatty hand cream.

A lower resistance?

What is wrong of the story that is to be hygienic to live a lower resistance would produce? “In the past, our hygiene is worse, and people had a better resistance. But who better resistance on the one hand, on the other hand, however, associated with more deaths of children and other weaker members of society.”

“It is an illusion to think that your hands after washing sterile”
Marcel Zwietering, professor of food microbiology at Wageningen University & Research

According to Zwietering, it is often claimed that our environment is clean, but still are all around us bacteria. “It is an illusion to think that your hands after washing sterile.”

On 1 square meter of skin perhaps a million bacteria, depending on the situation. Zwietering: “If you are on the normal way your hands washes, that number might temporarily by a factor of a thousand down. There is still a thousand.” Would you all want to remove, then you have much better to do your best.

“A surgeon is just before surgery maybe twenty minutes long, and the hands and nails to wash and disinfect. That’s an awful lot of work, but even then they will still not be 100 percent sterile.”

If you really want to do: first wash your hands with soap, then with a disinfecting hand gel. (Photo: consumer product safety

Is hand gel bad?

Also, lavish use of disinfectant hand gel with alcohol, you will resistance, not harm, says professor of Zwietering. In fact: most people won’t even the intended result. “If you really want to do good, you must wash your hands with soap and water and then apply the disinfectant hand gel to use. Otherwise it won’t work, then there is only the dirt away with it.”

“Disinfectant gel is still better than nothing,”
Marcel Zwietering, professor of food microbiology at Wageningen University & Research

Not for nothing go doctors first with water and soap in the back before they disinfectant gel. “But yes, that is so cumbersome that almost no one at home will do.” Throw that gelletje nevertheless not way: in situations where no crane is available, for example on journey, wash with disinfectant gel is still better than nothing.

“People with the not necessarily worse resistance’

Even people with the need for a lower resistance to fear, according to Zwietering. “I don’t see directly a problem, no. It is only a psychological problem, and there is going to be money, energy, and chemicals to be lost.”

However, according to the professor even in people, the immune system often enough to be triggered. “It is simply impossible to do not to come into contact with bacteria.” On everything we eat or touch, and even in the air we breathe, sit invaders.

“Unwashed hands do not always get sick, but its always a risk”
Marcel Zwietering, professor of food microbiology at Wageningen University & Research

All in all, may Zwieterings make words absolutely no reason to the sink after going to the toilet, but constitutes, he says. “Of course you should still wash your hands regularly, especially if you go to the toilet, or boil, or during the cooking if you raw products have touched. And you have small children, or you work in the catering or care, then you need to that more often.”

Washing hands is as careful on the street

Zwietering comparing washing your hands to the left and look right before you cross the street cross the bridge. “If I do not do, I will certainly not always hit by a car. And if I have time in my hands, I won’t always get sick or someone else sick. But sometimes I did. It is always a risk, so something you should avoid.”

Jan Maarten van Dijl, professor of Medical Microbiology at the University of Groningen, is the broadly agree with Zwieterings story. “Parched hands are a bit less protected against pathogenic micro-organisms”, meaning he did. “But yes, what is ‘too often’? Every five minutes, wash your hands is not good, no. Where the border lies, will also vary from person to person.”

Washing hands works temporarily, during the use of an atm or a door is opened and you come back with bacteria in contact. ()

Washing hands protects but equally

However, people who are ‘just’ more often to wash their hands, there is not just a burden. “You still have enough bacteria in your environment or on your body is enough resistance to build.”

Van Dijl stresses that hand washing is just temporarily working: “as soon As you’re going to do something, for example the hold of a railing or the use of the atm, will get your body back with new micro-organisms come into contact.”

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