Asian mom and daughter washing hands in stone sink

It may sound schmaltzy but one of the best things you can give yourself is the gift of health. While several factors affect your health, including genetics, lifestyle, and sheer bad luck, you can give yourself an extra layer of protection with proper hand hygiene.

Did you know that the significance of hand hygiene was proven only in the late 19th century? Before that, millions of people had to suffer what could have been avoidable disease and infection. Though the history of handwashing can be traced back to biblical times, it was only through the efforts of Hungarian physician Ignaz Semmelweis that hand hygiene became crucial in preventing the spread of diseases.

In an era when gloves were optional and handwashing was a faith-based practice, Semmelweis observed a high maternal mortality rate in his hospital due to bacterial infection. He required his team to clean their hands with a chloride solution before and in between procedures. By March, the rate dropped from 18.27 to 1.27 percent. By August 1848, no mothers in his hospital died from childbirth.

Despite these numbers, Semmelweis was a controversial figure during his time. His politics caused his colleagues to disfavor him and the medical community renounced his findings. Though he would be proven right decades later, many people continue to reject today. Here’s why you should make washing your hands a part of your lifestyle.

Hand Hygiene Will Protect You From Common Illnesses

Many people consider handwashing an optional practice that they need to do only when they have to. According to a study in the American Journal of Infection Control, more people feel compelled to wash their hands only during dire medical issues, such as the SARS outbreak in 2003. However, handwashing doesn’t just help you avoid seasonal plagues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that hand hygiene can save you from 30% of diarrhea-related sicknesses and 16 to 20% of respiratory infections, which are everyday ailments.

Hand Hygiene Can Protect Your Loved Ones, Too

Washing hands serves as an extra shield for you and your loved ones against common and major diseases.

Consider hand hygiene to the people you love as well. The chances of you contaminating the people around you plummet when you wash your hands properly and thoroughly. When you don’t get sick, your household doesn’t get sick either.

Show that you care with Dove Nourishing Hand Wash. Apart from cleansing, it is formulated with Dove’s ¼ moisturizing cream that leaves your skin soft and smooth no matter how many times you wash your hands throughout the day. It comes in two variants Deeply Nourishing and Cucumber and Green Tea – the latter even releases revitalizing essence that can help perk your spirits.

Hand Hygiene Can Make You Live Longer

Got big plans for your future? Frequent hand washing can help guarantee that you even have a future. In the 1850s, when people shunned hand hygiene, life expectancy was up to 40 years. Now, the average is 80. It is mainly because people now know that cleaning your hands controls the spread of once-fatal diseases.

Hand Hygiene Is Just Common Sense

According to statistics, women wash their hands more frequently than men

In August 2019, the International Journal of Epidemiology published a survey that studied high-income countries and their handwashing habits., Despite the relatively unlimited access to soap and water, 50% of respondents revealed that they do not use these materials to wash their hands after going to the bathroom.

Exactly a year later, a British poll showed that only 78% of 2,000 respondents washed their hands more frequently. While it’s a vast improvement, experts consider it a relatively low number considering the current context.

Experts attribute this lack of handwashing to “optimism bias,” a psychological concept discussed in Current Biology in 2011. Those who are supposedly more optimistic are less likely to wash their hands because they believe they won’t catch anything. While that’s a dandy rationale, the math doesn’t exactly add up. Being cautious for a few extra minutes will only increase your confidence that you’re protected.

Hand hygiene is a necessary component of health—just as much as healthy eating and exercise. If you’re not a frequent hand-washer yet, then be one now.