Stories tagged Hygiene

May
04
2009

Not to freak y'all out, but did you know that germs are on everything you touch? Using a special powder called Glo Germ (get it here) you can actually see how germs spread from one thing to another. It will make you want to wash your hands more often. (And the CDC recommends washing your hands frequently. In fact, why don't you go wash up right now?)

Scrub 'em: Use soap and water, and wash for 20 seconds. That's about the time it takes to sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice.
Scrub 'em: Use soap and water, and wash for 20 seconds. That's about the time it takes to sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice.Courtesy mitikusa

TRY THIS:
Goal: to observe how germs are spread
Age level:: 3 and above
Activity time: 2 - 5 minutes
Prep time: 5 minutes

Materials needed:

  • Glo Germ powder
  • Toys or common household/school/office objects to "spike" with germs
  • UV lamp or detector box

Preparation:

  1. Sprinkle Glo Germ powder on your objects.
  2. Arrange them somewhere where others can handle them.
  3. Plug in UV lamp, but don't turn it on.

Directions:
Encourage others to pick up and play with the objects. Ask them what they know about germs.

  • Do you know where microbes are found?
  • Do you know what a microbe/germ is?
  • Do you know what illnesses are caused by germs?
  • Do you know the best way to avoid getting sick because of germs?

After the discussion, tell them that, as part of an experiment, you've put "pretend" germs on one or some of the objects they may have touched today. Switch on the UV lamp: what glows?

Reinforce the fat that the Glo Germ powder is just to simulate germs. It won't make you sick. You can get rid of the germs by washing your hands. In fact, encourage your audience to wash their hands and then hold them under the UV light again.

(On the other hand, remember that not all germs are bad. Exposure to some germs is thought to protect people against asthma and allergies or colitis, and overuse of antibacterial products leads to antibiotic resistance and superbugs as well as potential damage to the environment.)

Mar
20
2009

Sudsy: Sure, you think that shampoo in your hair every day is helpful. But is it really? Dermatologists say that daily shampooing can be counter productive.
Sudsy: Sure, you think that shampoo in your hair every day is helpful. But is it really? Dermatologists say that daily shampooing can be counter productive.Courtesy cybertoad
Wash, rinse, repeat.

It’s the standard verbage that you find on every shampoo bottle. Comedians have a great time making jokes about it. But people who study hair closely are wondering if we’re actually washing our hair too much these days.

Here’s the complete NPR report on the matter.

There are plenty of people in the U.S. who wouldn’t think of going a day with out washing their hair. Americans, on average, wash their hair 4.59 times per week. Those who live in Italy and France scrub their locks about half that rate.

So what’s the right amount of washing for a person’s hair?

Back in the early 1900s, the rule of thumb among Americans was once a month. The short answer for this day and age is: it depends. But dermatologists note that less you wash your hair, the less our sebaceous glands create sebum oil, one of the oils we’re continually trying to wash out of our hair. As a general rule, the dermatologists in the report suggest shampooing your hair no more than two or three times a week.

The type and length of a person’s hair can matter in the frequency of shampooing, too. Those with long, straight hair will generally need to shampoo more often than those with shorter, curlier hair.

Of course, marketers and advertising wizards want to create an impression in our mind that we need to use shampoos more often. After all, they’ll make more money with the more shampoo we use.

The green movement is picking up on this idea, too. Here's a link to a blog by a woman who avoids shampoo – and many other products – for environmental reasons.

Are you foaming to weigh in with your opinions about shampoo? Share them here with other Buzz readers.

Sep
18
2007

Wash up: According to a recent observational survey, men are nearly three times more likely not to wash their hands after going to the bathroom as women. Is that surprising?
Wash up: According to a recent observational survey, men are nearly three times more likely not to wash their hands after going to the bathroom as women. Is that surprising?
Okay guys, we’ve got a problem here. The hand-washing police have been keeping tabs on us and have found that one-third of us don’t wash our hands after going the bathroom. On the otherhand, so to speak, only 12 percent of women skip the sink when they’re leaving a bathroom.

The bathroom police is the Soap and Detergent Association, which released its new findings in a report made public on Monday. And it slams men pretty hard. The same survey conducted two years ago showed that 25 percent of men didn’t wash their hand then.

The information is based on observations made last month of the behaviors of more than 6,000 people in public restrooms in four major U.S. cities.

Okay, so they really weren’t police officers, but the researchers conducting the study actually had people standing in public restrooms monitoring and recording the washing habits of the people who came through. And you thought you had a bad job.

Anyway, what’s really interesting is to compare the numbers to what people say of their washing habits in telephone interviews. In a Harris Interactive survey, 92 percent of respondents said that they wash after every trip to the bathroom.

Back to the observational survey, here are stats from each of the bathrooms visited:

• Atlanta's Turner Field baseball stadium again was the worst. Only 57 percent of guys there washed up, compared to 95 percent of women.

• New York was Second City to Chicago in cleanliness. In restrooms at the Windy City's Shedd Aquarium and Museum of Science and Industry, 81 percent of men and women combined washed their hands, compared to 79 percent at the Big Apple's Penn and Grand Central train stations.

• At San Francisco's Ferry Terminal Farmers Market, 62.5 percent of men lathered up. Women did better, with 84 percent.

Frequent hand washing is the single best thing people can do to avoid getting sick, from colds and the flu to germs lurking in food, doctors say. But we all know that, right? So why don’t we wash up better?

Jul
27
2007

Staphylococcus aureus: There are some other photos of staph out there, but they all seem to involve a ton of pus.     (Photo by Estherase on flickr.com)
Staphylococcus aureus: There are some other photos of staph out there, but they all seem to involve a ton of pus. (Photo by Estherase on flickr.com)Courtesy Esther Simpson
Hand washing, nose picking, good hygiene, we all know about this stuff right? Do it, do it in the sanitary privacy of your bathroom, and do it, respectively. Dirty hands spread germs, and germs spread infections – we know this, and, consequently, are as clean as a nation of whistles. Or are we?

I recently catalogued ten everyday and seemingly harmless activities that I do, and then researched their hygienic ups and downs. I urge you to follow along, see which activities you do, and then tally up your hygiene score. I think you might be surprised…

1) Put dirty laundry in the washing machine.
2) Prepare a ham sandwich.
3) Give/receive a high-five.
4) Turn on a light switch.
5) Wash your hands.
6) Clean the cat box using only your fingers.
7) Touch a friend’s face.
8) Pet the dog.
9) Hold hands with a stranger.
10) Become hospitalized.

Okay. Now, being honest, figure out your score using this key:
1) –3, 2) –1, 3) –6, 4) –5, 5) +10, 6) –15, 7) –9, 8) –4, 9) –11, 10) –31.

And, remember, if you’ve washed your hands more than once, you get points for each time. Also, if you have, say, cleaned more than one cat box with just your fingers, take away fifteen points for each time.

So… how did you score? Uh huh, I thought so.

The score for the last item, becoming hospitalized, may be something of a surprise to you. However, a recent article in The New York Times has highlighted the huge difference that increased sanitary conditions makes in cutting infection rates. Simple things like more frequent hand washing, glove wearing, and better isolating patients known to carry certain pathogens has cut infection rates in hospitals as much as 78 percent.

It seems obvious enough, although some hospital administrators are hesitant to commit to change, fearing the increased costs associated with some procedures, and citing the fact that isolated patients often receive less attention from hospital staff, and are more likely to suffer from falls, bedsores, and increased stress.

Dealing with infections acquired in the hospital, on the other hand, can be dangerous and extremely expensive. One of the main culprits is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. MRSA can be carried into hospitals by patients who demonstrate no symptoms, and can be passed by unwashed hands. If MRSA gets into a wound, it can cause anything from a painful sore to a fatal infection. By screening patients as they enter care, though, MRSA has been all but eliminated in countries like The Netherlands and Finland. Some states in the US are required to test certain high-risk patients for bacterium like MRSA, but very few hospitals screen all incoming patients.

Should the government require hospitals to screen all patients for MRSA? It’s not cheap, but it would save lives and probably money in the long run.
And could you possible think of a better way to clean the litter box than my tried-and-true bare hands method? Honestly?