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5 Things That Can Happen When You Don’t Wash Your Hands Enough

Global Handwashing Day

Have you heard about it?

October 15 is Global Handwashing Day!

A global advocacy day “dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.”

Even though it isn’t guaranteed to cause health problems when you don’t wash your hands (i.e. washing hands frequently does not automatically mean you won’t get COVID-19), there are quite a few unpleasant things that could happen when you take this action for granted.

While our immune system usually steps in before those nasty bacteria and viruses can do real harm, you may be unnecessarily putting yourself at risk when you skip this crucial hygiene step.

Here’s five reasons why you should never skip on giving your palms a quick scrub!

1. You’re infecting everyone you touch

If you don’t wash your hands and unknowingly have lots of bacteria and germs, it’s highly likely you’re passing those germs to friends, family or people you’re close to! The worst part: getting them sick as well. If you get the germs on an object - like a doorknob or handrail - you could even infect strangers.

2. You might catch more colds

All those germs can get to you too.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 80 percent of infectious disease is spread by touch. It’s as simple as touching a germ-infected doorknob and then casually touching your eyes, or grabbing your snack without washing your hands.

So let this serve as motivation to wash our hands more consciously, not only for your own sake, but for everyone else's health as well.

3. You may frequently have diarrhea

Not washing your hands habitually can increase your chances of catching an illness that leads to diarrhea. Diarrhea can be a symptom of a larger disease like cholera or typhoid, along with the common rotavirus.

An estimated 1.5 million children die each year due to diarrheal diseases, most of them in Africa and Southeast Asia. One study found that washing hands with soap can prevent about 4 out of every 10 cases of diarrhea.

According to the CDC, simply washing your hands — especially after coming in contact with germ-infected surfaces — can prevent about 30 percent of diarrhea-related illnesses.

4. You may get pink eye

Washing your hands has been shown to prevent two far-reaching eye diseases. Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, can be caused by infection, as can trachoma, a bacterial infection that is the leading cause of blindness in the world.

5. Acne can crop up

Not washing your hands can also increase the chances of an acne breakout - something that we all despise. And it’s all thanks to the way bacteria can easily transfer from your hands to your face, especially if you have a habit of regularly touching your face.

"Touching, rubbing, and picking [at the] face are common causes for more acne," Dr. Yoram Harth, board-certified dermatologist and medical director of MDacne.

"When the hands are not washed, the bacteria on the skin of our hands spread to the face and can cause more acne."


As mentioned, proper handwashing is one of the simplest, most effective ways to stop the spread of germs and stay healthy. But for many in the world who are living in rural communities and dire conditions, access to clean water to sustain their daily life is a struggle. Let’s not even talk about washing hands - these communities can’t even find clean water for them to consume. The risk of diseases are at an all-time high, and the first step is to ensure that these underprivileged communities are given sustainable access to clean water.

Visit Global Ehsan Relief's Care for Clean Water page to find out how you can play a part in building sustainable water sources in communities that need it the most.

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