Winter has a lot of upsides: the holiday season, gift giving, snow days, hot chocolate and more. However, winter is also the prime time for illnesses like the common cold, flu and stomach viruses. We talked to Charles Hannum, MD, a general pediatrician here at Tufts Children's Hospital about how to avoid those pesky winter bugs.
“Bacteria and viruses are most commonly spread via the air or by touching contaminated surfaces, and it only takes seconds to infect yourself,” Dr. Hannum said. “Common places where infection is introduced include the eyes, nose and mouth — places that children touch often.”
So how can parents keep their little ones healthy this winter? The answer is surprisingly simple: proper handwashing. Hand hygiene is absolutely essential in warding off germs, and it’s important to wash you and your child’s hands frequently.
When to wash:
- When your hands are dirty/soiled
- Before eating
- After using the bathroom
- After touching a pet
- After covering the mouth to sneeze or cough
- After playing outside
- After using public transportation
How to wash:
- Good hand washing consists of using warm water and regular soap
- Wash for 10-15 seconds (note: this is longer than you probably think)
- Warm, soapy water is preferred over antibacterial soaps and sanitizers, but these can be used if they are the only option available