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It’s almost that time again—back to school.

As summer comes to a close, children begin to cut back on summer luxuries like junk food, TV and video games. Soon, it will be time to eat healthier, read more and adjust to an earlier bedtime schedule (yay!).

As students get used to their new school routine, parents begin to worry about their children being exposed to a plethora of germs. During the school year germs can spread quickly and easily infect your child with the flu, a sore throat or even pink eye. The best way to stay healthy is to know how to protect against germs, bacteria and viruses. Take a look at our back to school health tips to help keep your children out of the nurse’s office and in the classroom.

Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse and Dry

Washing your hands is still considered the best way to remove germs, reduce the risk of getting sick and prevent the spread of germs to others. It’s important to teach your children the proper hand washing technique before they return to school this fall.

Below are five hand-washing steps from the Center of Disease Control:

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold).
  • Lather your hands with soap by rubbing them together. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air-dry them.

Hand Washing vs. Hand Sanitizer

Many of us have adopted the habit of using hand sanitizer as an alternative to hand washing before enjoying a quick snack or meal. It is a common belief that this is just as satisfactory as hand washing. The truth is—soap and water beat hand sanitizer without a doubt. It is recommended by experts to always use soap and water, if available. If you do not have the option, hand sanitizer is an acceptable alternative.

Regardless of how you feel about washing your hands vs. using hand sanitizer, you should know that antibacterial soaps, hand sanitizers and other personal cleaning products may be hazardous to your health. The concern stems from a main ingredient found in many hand sanitizers—triclosan. 

Triclosan is a chlorinated aromatic compound with antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. It is commonly found in hand soaps, deodorants, toothpastes, and other cleaning and personal care products. Triclosan is considered an endocrine disrupter that not only damages the immune system, but also can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions, hay fever, higher incidence of food allergy, endocrine dysfunction, and development of resistant organisms (germs that don’t react/respond to disinfectants).  You may want to consider hand sanitizers that do not contain triclosan this school year. 

Check Your Records

When was the last time your child had their annual checkup with your family doctor? Check your records to see if their immunizations are up-to-date to ensure that your child is healthy and virus-free before going back to school. Making sure your children receive their vaccinations on time is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your children’s long-term health. For more information on recommended vaccines for your child, please visit the CDC website.

Cover Up

In order to reduce the spread of infectious germs, experts recommend not sneezing or coughing into your hand. Sneezing and coughing into your sleeve is actually the best way to stop the spread of germs from a sneeze or cough when you don’t have a tissue. If you sneeze or cough into your hand, you have a grater risk of transferring germs to others unless you wash your hands immediately. 

As a way to stop the spread of germs and support good health among your children and their classmates, we suggest you teach your children these simple techniques. These tips can reduce your student’s risk of catching a cold during the upcoming school year. If you have any additional back to school health tips, please leave them in the comments section below.

This article brought to you by The Healthy Home Company.

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