• Consumer Health: Stay healthy — wash your hands!

a young women with a child at a bathroom sink helping the little girl wash her hands

National Handwashing Awareness Week will be observed Dec. 4–10, so this is a good time for a reminder of how important it is to wash your hands.

Frequent hand-washing is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading illness. Keeping hands clean can prevent 1 in 3 diarrhea-related illnesses and 1 in 5 respiratory infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

RSV, influenza and COVID-19 are respiratory infections caused by different viruses. Along with ensuring that you and your family are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and the flu, washing your hands is an important step in keeping your family healthy in this season of respiratory infections.

Young children learn by imitation, so be sure you are following good hand hygiene practices at home. Wash your hands with your children to show them how it's done. And if you need a refresher, Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious diseases expert and head of Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group, offers a demonstration on hand-washing.

Make hand-washing fun by singing the "Happy Birthday" or "ABCs" songs twice as a guideline of the time required for good technique. Hang this poster in the bathroom, and download the accompanying coloring sheet. If a child can't reach the sink on his or her own, keep a step stool handy.

Hand-washing is an easy, important part of preventing illness. Adopting this habit can keep you and your family healthy.

Connect with others talking about healthy living in the Healthy Living support group on Mayo Clinic Connect, an online patient community moderated by Mayo Clinic.

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