People who shake hands are much more likely to transmit infections than those who exchange a friendly kiss on the cheek.
“Hands are a critical link in the chain of infection because they transmit infections from surfaces to people and between people,” said Professor Sally Bloomfield of the London Institute of Hygiene.
“A handshake is the main form of physical contact in society, but one does not know what the other has touched before greeting each other. People avoid kissing when they have a cold, but in reality they are more likely to pass the infection by shaking hands.
With our hands coming into contact with a multitude of different surfaces every day, it’s no wonder they can pick up any number of germs and bacteria. Research has found that you actually spread more germs by shaking someone’s hand than you do from kissing them. Keyboards can harbour as much as 7,500 bacteria, while computer mice and screens are also breeding hubs for germs and viruses. Washing your hands regularly is key to keeping the spread of harmful bacteria down.
Frequent hand washing is more effective than medication when it comes to preventing both respiratory viruses and gastrointestinal infections, say British scientists.
Many people make the effort to wash their hands, but a large proportion aren’t doing it properly. More than 50% of people forget to wash their thumbs and 95% don’t wash their hands for long enough.
In order for the germs on our hands to be properly washed away, we should be washing them for at least 20 seconds. Hands should be wet with water, have enough soap applied to cover both hands and then scrubbed – capturing the palms, fingers, thumbs and the back of hands. Giving them a rinse and a proper dry is always good practice.
Only eight seconds are spent drying hands, which isn’t long enough to keep them germ free – make sure they are fully dry before heading back into the office.