Handy advice: Drying discussion should take a back seat to effective wash cycle

Which method has the upper hand – towel-dried or blow-dried?

Everyone knows that the best way to keep germs at bay is to wash your hands with soap and water after going to the bathroom, changing a diaper or handling raw meat.

But what’s the best way to dry them? Is it better to pluck a paper towel from the dispenser or plunge your dripping wet hands under the hot air dryer?

Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says there’s little scientific data to support whether one method of drying is better than another.

“The most important issue is to focus on the hand washing,” he said.  “Few people consider all of the things that we touch every day that are also touched by other people including door knobs, railings and elevator buttons. This is particularly important during the flu season, when these surfaces can easily become contaminated and the virus can spread readily through the population.”

Dr. Kahn said the key is to use warm, soapy water and rub your hands together vigorously for at least 30 seconds. If soap and water aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer gel with at least 60 percent alcohol.

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/infectiousdiseases to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services for infectious diseases.

Media Contact: Kristen Holland Shear

Return to December 2010/Holiday News Tips

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