Washing Hands?

In the article on washing hands after peeing:

Cecil states urine is a fairly clean substance, and, in fact, is occasionally used by doctors for sterilizing in low-tech areas. (I’d like to know why a salt solution wouldn’t work better, and be generally less disgusting)

Anyway, he stated the major problem is with coliform bacteria, which, according to him, are all about our midriff.

Anyway, this got me to thinking. The punki stick example, now that’s obvious. That’s why doctors wash their hands around open wounds.
But claiming that washing hands is the only thing between us and typhoid?

First off, wouldn’t a more likely result to being exposed to someone else’s bacteria be the runs?

Secondly, how deadly are they if you don’t have a cut?

Thirdly, why would washing your hands be any more effective then washing any other part of your body? If I can wash my hands with soap, why not my penis?

Fourthly, if these things are all that deadly, should we wash our hands every time we tuck in our t-shirt? Or is there a limit to how high up these little bacteria go (no further then the underwear elastic)?

Fifthly, is it more dangerous in a public restroom, then at home? I.e., aside from punji sticks, do we adapt to each other’s fauna? This has some ramifications when it comes to intimacy.

Anyway, just wondering.
And, to put your mind at ease, yes I do wash my hands - although after reading his “Bactine” comment, it seems almost as though urinating on them would be more effective.

Precisely what you DO do before giving a urine sample. :slight_smile:

Yah. Which is why I thought his comment about needing a sandblaster a bit odd.

Perhaps he does not soap down his body?
Or perhaps his soap does not have antibacterial qualities?

Yah. Which is why I thought his comment about needing a sandblaster a bit odd.

Perhaps he does not soap down his body?
Or perhaps his soap does not have antibacterial qualities?

Yah. Which is why I thought his comment about needing a sandblaster a bit odd.

Perhaps he does not soap down his body?
Or perhaps his soap does not have antibacterial qualities?

Um. Moderator?
Some help here?
I’d swear I only hit post once…
Want to delete a few duplicates? :slight_smile:

The reason for washing your hands - not just after you use the toilet, but before cooking food, after handling raw meat, before eating, and so on - is that hands are a great way to spread germs. You can use them to carry germs to your own mouth, nose, or eyes, where they get a chance to live and multiply. Or you can share your germs with other people if you shake hands or otherwise touch them. Washing the parts of your body where germs are likely to multiply in the first place isn’t a bad idea either, but washing your hands is quick and easy to do many times throughout the day.

Ah, but Kyberneticist, did you wash your hands before hitting the post? You can spread computer viruses that way, you know! :slight_smile:


Ask those people in the Northwest who ate those Jack-in-the-box burgers… Or those people who drank that Odwalla juice… Or anyone who’s had a food-borne E. coli infection. We’re not just talking salmonella here, though of course they didn’t all die (mostly just the kids).

Well, reading from Unca Cece’s original column, washing doesn’t get the little critters living deep in the pores and fissures of the skin, but does get rid of those sticking to your skin oils. If you went long enough without washing your hands, presumably, then there wouldn’t be much of a difference - the coliform bacteria would make it into the pores of the skin there, too (though again from Unca C’s column you might be dead before that time anyway). On the other hand, if you washed your midriff as long and as thoroughly as my Grandma used to wash her hands, you might not have many filthy pores left there…

Hmmm…in other words, how deadly is yer waistband? When I tuck in my t-shirt, my hands stay outside the fabric except for the thumb holding the waistband open, and maybe the knuckles on the tucking hand… My god, I’m lucky to be alive!

In terms of restrooms, the point is to not get the fecal bacteria into your digestive tract or organs; simply sitting on a toilet seat leaves the (amazingly effective) protective barrier of your skin in place. (And that’s why they provide those butt-gaskets.) So wash your hands before sticking them in your mouth - and IMMEDIATELY tell the manager if you see an employee leave without washing! Remember, it’s YOUR salad they’re making.

As for intimacy - Man! If ever there was an argument for why not to be a brown-noser at work…

About them there urine samples:

First, I’ve never heard of washing a penis or the rest of the genitalia before giving a urine sample. During my brief period in med lab tech school, we were told NOT to allow people to do this because the soap residue will screw up the tests. To get a clean urine sample, you use a technique called 'mid-stream catch’or ‘clean catch’. The donor begins urinating and allows some urine to be passed before using the container to catch a sample. For the women, the container should NOT contact the body during this procedure. Unless you have a urinary tract infection, the urinary tract itself should be pretty close to sterile - the bacteria are on the outer skin surfaces. As the urine exits the body, it is contaminated by this bacteria. By allowing some urine to pass before taking a sample, most of this bacteria is washed away and a much cleaner sample is obtained.

Sterility? Well, sorta sterile - unless you have an infection, the urine itself should not contain any bacteria - contamination occurs during exit, as mentioned above. However, most urine IS contaminated and contains at least a few bacteria. “Clean catch urine” is pretty darn clean for a few minutes, but urine is also a wonderful breeding ground for bacteria, whether from bodily contamination or contamination from the air, container, etc. A urine sample that sits uncovered for 30 minutes will usually be FULL of bacteria.

BTW, the bacteria that frequently inhabit urine produce ammonia as a by-product of their life cycle, which is why older urine samples (and cat litter boxes) smell like ammonia.

Don’t know if its true or not, but my dad claims that during WWII, the soldiers were told to urinate on their bare feet at least once a day to prevent athlete’s foot.

I have as much authority as the Pope; I just don’t have as many people who believe it! - George Carlin

In that case there is enough pee on the floor of bathrooms that if you walked barefoot in the bathroom [as if who doesn’t?] you won’t get athletes foot. But we still get it.

Also, nasty stuff like hepatitis can be spread if you don’t wash your hands. That’s why you find some restaurant or other where lots of people get it. Cuz some employee didn’t wash.

Also, washing is really pretty useless cause restroom faucets, doorknobs, toilet handles are full of all kinds, of, well, shit.

So, unless you use the ol’ foot on the handle trick, washing doesn’t do all that much.

Foot on the handle, and those paper towels don’t get thrown away until they’ve also served to close the faucets and pull the door open. (I AM my Grandma’s progeny…)

are people with obsessive/compulsive encouraged to not wash thier hands?

Well, I’ve waited a couple of days to see if someone with actual experience would answer your question, but it looks like that won’t happen. So I’ll share a couple of observations and thoughts; put it down to a SWAG (I majored in Behavioral Science) and leave it at that.

I sincerely doubt it, as that would generate its own health problems. What they are likely encouraged to do is cut down, sort of a “You understand that once is enough, right? Well, let’s try to keep it under control.”

My understanding, which could be outdated or simply wrong, is that cognitive therapy is efficacious in a number of OCD cases, and that chemicals work in other cases. My own observation is that OCD seems to be related to amorphous feelings of discomfort; the OCD behaviors are pursued to try to obtain relief. In theory, then, if the subject can get hi/r discomfort under control (medications, “don’t worry, be happy,” altered life circumstances, etc.), the urge to wash, or check, or whatever, is reduced. And that’s basically what cognitive therapy does - it tries to break the (subconscious) cycle of urges and behaviors.

I’m not sure if my also-use-the-paper-towel-to-open-the-door thing, while unusual, is really OCD. I only do it in grotty public restrooms, and it’s a conscious decision (though it does reduce the stress I feel over the general filthiness and perceived level of contamination, and may stem from the same figurative place OCD does). If so, then I’d guess that the rest of my life is sufficiently under control that I don’t need to wash continually to “feel better.”

Last note: saw an interesting bit on TV a few months ago about a kid who developed a major case of OCD after suffering strep throat. They figured that his immune response misfired and also attacked a specific region of his brain, resulting in that malady. IIRC, medication helped him considerably.