Help… It's Cold and Flu Season! How Can I Protect My Children?

January 9, 2013

Parents, nannies, daycare centres and all those who care for children are scrambling after the national news reports from the last week stating that we are experiencing the worst outbreak of respiratory infections and flu in recent history!!

And these bugs seem to linger and linger…

Is there anything preventative that really works?

Most health care professionals agree on one thing…frequent hand-washing is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading illness. Hand-washing requires only soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer — a cleanser that doesn't require water.

Further, antibacterial hand wash, soaps, wipes, gels etc will not prevent you from catching a cold or influenza.

This statement seems almost trivial and anticlimactic, but it is the best answer!!

  • So what does the research say?

The CDC study involved more than 200 households, some of which used soap containing 0.2 percent triclosan (an antibacterial) and others using ordinary soap. When compared to plain soap, antibacterial soap appeared to provide no benefits in reducing rates of colds in generally healthy people. "The kind of soap you use doesn't matter," says Samuel N. Grief, MD, medical director of campus care at the University of Illinois at Chicago. "Any liquid or bar soap works just fine in protecting you against colds and infections." In fact, some studies say that frequent use of certain types of antibacterial soap may actually be harmful. Evidence suggests that residue-producing antibacterial soap may kill normal healthy bacteria on the skin as well as unhealthy bacteria, allowing resistant bacteria to take its place. Resistant bacteria can make antibiotics less effective.

  • So what does effective hand washing look like?

Follow these simple steps:

  1. Wet your hands with warm-hot running water.
  2. Apply liquid, bar or powder soap.
  3. Lather well.
  4. Rub your hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds.( do it for at least as long as it takes you to SING the national anthem, from start to finish). Remember to scrub all surfaces, including the backs of your hands, wrists, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
  5. Rinse well.
  6. Dry your hands with a clean or disposable towel or air dryer.
  7. If possible, use your towel to turn off the faucet.

Sleep, nutrition, proximity to children who are sick and common sense on the part of the caregiver are obviously factors that help keep a child strong and infection free, but other than that

'Soap and water is all you need' … and a little luck!!