10 Childhood Diseases that Can Be Avoided with Handwashing
Many childhood diseases are transmitted by dirty hands, such as gastroenteritis and respiratory diseases. Year after year, these conditions represent the main causes of morbidity and school and work absenteeism. Fortunately, there are many childhood diseases that can be avoided with handwashing.
With that in mind, in the following article, we’ll tell you why this habit is considered one of the most effective methods to stop the spread of diseases.
Childhood diseases that can be avoided with handwashing
Promoting proper handwashing is an economical and effective measure to reduce the risk of getting sick. Especially in young children, who tend to put objects or hands in their mouths, and in schoolchildren, who remain in close contact with other children and share common objects.
Numerous international health organizations have launched campaigns to make the population aware of the importance of acquiring this hygiene guideline on a daily basis. And in fact, every year, on October 15, International Handwashing Day is commemorated, at the initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Do you know what diseases can be prevented with handwashing? We’ll tell you below.
Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the thinnest, most transparent layer that covers the inner surface of the eyelid. The causes may or may not be infectious (such as allergies and chemicals) and the manifestations vary depending on the type of disease.
According to recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), practicing proper handwashing is the best way to limit the spread of germs that cause conjunctivitis.
Chickenpox is a very common childhood infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It’s more common in children than in adults, and its course is usually mild. However, when adults contract it, they can suffer from more severe conditions.
Among its characteristic symptoms, we can mention fever, which days later is accompanied by a skin rash that causes a lot of itching. These lesions appear as spots that turn into blisters and then scabs.
The transmission of the virus is carried out by direct contact between people, either through the skin or through respiratory secretions. These also contaminate hands and surfaces.
You may be interested in: Top 10 Questions Parents Have About Head Lice
Salmonellosis is a type of gastroenteritis and its symptoms begin 6 to 48 hours after ingestion of food or water contaminated with bacteria from the Salmonella group.
Some of its manifestations are vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal pain. There may even be evidence of headache and muscle pain, although these aren’t always present.
Giardiasis is an infection of the small intestine caused by parasites from the Giardia family. It usually appears with foul-smelling, watery diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and flatulence. Unlike the previous case, these cases of gastroenteritis tend to be more prolonged in time than bacterial types.
Ingestion of water contaminated with parasite cysts or direct contact with a person who carries them on their hands causes infection. Therefore, hand hygiene and environmental sanitation are key factors in limiting transmission.
Hand washing is considered one of the main methods to reduce the risk of transmission of infectious agents through the respiratory, contact, and fecal-oral routes.
5. Skin infections
Impetigo is a very common bacterial skin infection in children. The bacteria that cause it can be acquired through direct contact with another person’s lesions.
Keep reading: White Spots on Children’s Skin
Respiratory infections, including pneumonia, are one of the leading causes of death in children under 5 years of age. Fortunately, there’s evidence in favor of washing hands with soap and water as an effective method to prevent them.
The common cold or the flu are also common conditions in childhood, especially in the cold months of the year. For this reason, experts recommend rubbing your hands well with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, in order to ensure a correct cleaning of germs.
It’s best to wash all the surfaces of the hands and nails and even extend washing the wash to the wrists.
The common cold is transmitted directly or indirectly through the hands. This is because they’re very easily contaminated by respiratory secretions when coughing, sneezing, or wiping the nose.
According to the results of a study, handwashing can reduce the risk of upper respiratory illnesses. By removing respiratory pathogens from the hands, they’re kept from entering the body or being transmitted to other children.
9. Hand-foot-mouth disease
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is caused by a virus in the Coxsackie family. A child who’s infected with this germ can transmit it to other children through the following secretions:
- Drops of saliva or nasal mucus
- Fluid from blisters or scabs
- Fecal matter
Infected children tend to be much more contagious during the first week of illness, so staying home from school is recommended during this period.
Rotavirus is spread through fecal matter, through hand-to-mouth contact, and even through contact with contaminated surfaces (such as dirty diapers or toys). It can even spread through the air if it contains infected droplets of saliva, which are eliminated by coughing or sneezing.
Consequently, when a child carries the virus, they can pass it on to their peers in a variety of ways. But its spread can be avoided with handwashing, especially after going to the bathroom.
Handwashing as a synonym of health
Keeping your hands clean is one of the most important hygiene habits to avoid children’s diseases and cut the cycle of transmission.
For this reason, let’s educate children from an early age on the importance of proper handwashing so that they and their environment always remain very healthy.It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
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- Organización Panamericana de la Salud/Organización Mundial de la Salud. (2021) La higiene de manos salva vidas. Disponible en: https://www.paho.org/es/noticias/17-11-2021-higiene-manos-salva-vidas