Posted on 19/10/2012

Why are the British so bad at washing their hands?

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Why are the British so bad at washing their hands?

Horrifying new research suggests that faecal matter can be found on over a quarter of the British public’s hands and in some cases rivals the quantity of germs found in a dirty toilet bowl.

Present on 26% of hands in the UK, 14% of bank notes and 10% of credit cards, the research, carried out at the Queen Mary University of London and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine has been used to promote Global Handwashing Day. But why are Brits so bad at washing their hands?

Dr Ron Cutler who led the study said “People may claim they wash their hands regularly but the science shows otherwise”. It is thought that many of us actually lie about washing our hands – claiming that we’ve washed them when we haven’t.

A recent UK-wide study which interviewed members of the public at motorway service station toilets, showed that although 99% claimed to have washed their hands after visiting the bathroom, only 32% of men and 64% of women actually had. And even when faced with some serious health dilemmas such as the H1N1 virus – many still didn’t reach for the soap and water.

An international study by Harvard University suggests that during the 2009 swine flu pandemic, only 53% of people washed their hands more frequently – with the British taking pride of place as the worst culprits out of five countries studied.

Our approach to hand washing has been labelled ‘bizarre’ and ‘peculiar’ with Dr Lisa Ackerley stating that “many people in the UK don’t think they carry any diseases”. A consultant and co-founder of Hygiene Audit Systems, she continued saying that “they live in a country with modern facilities and think things are clean”.

With hand washing taught from an early age and campaigns such as “Catch it, bin it, kill it” seen by millions, it seems that the British public still don’t link the simple act of hand washing with the prevention of germs.

“Often they don’t associate dirty hands with infections until they actually get ill, it’s rather bizarre. They think their hands are clean” Dr Cutler added. And of course, the great British public are wrong with the average person’s hands carrying at least 3,000 different types of bacteria belonging to more than 100 different species according to researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder.

NRS Healthcare stock a range of mobility aids and disability aids as well as infection prevention aids such as surface sanitisers and anti-bacterial gels for hands and skin. Combined with effective hand washing routines, our range can help to prevent the spread of germs helping to combat some of the shocking statistic highlighted above.

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