I am going to start this by say that I am not a doctor, I have had a lot of medical training over the years from different jobs and courses. Most health and hygiene is common sense (washing your hands) but I know most of society seems to be lacking common sense these days which is why I have to write this article. The key concepts are washing your hands, don’t touch your face, use hand sanitizer (if you cant wash your hands) and if you are going to a region that has insect borne illnesses its important to take precautions.
Hand Sanitizers and Washing Your Hands
This is something you should all be doing anyway but since the soap shortage at the beginning of the Corona virus outbreak I am now more skeptical on how many people are actually doing this. There is rinsing your hands and there is washing your hands, HERE is a link how how to do the ladder. Hand sanitizer is a good alternative only if you cant wash your hands. There have been studies that show that hand sanitizer can actually attract some bacteria after it dries and that it is less effective than washing your hands. Not to mention the high amounts of chemical exposure your subjecting your self to if you have to use it regularly. So if you have clean water available and can wash your hands don’t go crazy with the hand sanitizer and just wash your hands.
Don’t Touch Your Face
You’ve been told this since you started getting acne as a kid and never paid any attention after it started to clear up. Then the recent outbreak happened and you started hearing it again. Then once you started paying attention you started to realize how often you actually do touch your face. Unless your skin is broken by a wound or some other opening it actually functions as a great barrier for most bacteria and toxins. Bacteria needs an entrance into your body to actually infect you. This is why you wash your hands before your eat or routinely clean wounds with disinfectant. Touching your face transfers the bacteria and possibly SOME, (I emphasize that word specifically) viruses from surfaces you have touched onto your face where they have greater access to pathways into the human body. These areas like your eyes, nose and mouth are where the bacteria and viruses can actually enter and start to do damage. Most viruses cannot survive on surfaces for very long, that’s why when working an ambulance we were not overly concerned about viruses unless they were air born. The notable exception being Hep C which can live out side the human body on any surface for approximately 6 weeks give or take.
When you’re traveling to and from your destination, whether in the airport or bus stations or just out on the town, avoid cramped and crowded areas whenever possible to lower the chances of getting sick while traveling. This is the basis for the social distancing that we have seen since the corona virus outbreak started. Crowed areas are also targeted by a wide range of criminals and terrorist so its wise to avoid them when you can anyway. The distance keeps any particulates that are coughed into the air from reaching you in a way where they can be inhaled. This is especially effective in large areas or out doors because the particulates are diluted by the larger quantity of air moving around. This wont be as effective indoors especially if a virus is truly airborne.
Masks are a huge topic right now, Should we wear them? Do they really work on viruses? There is some data to support it and some data that doesn’t. A great video that just puts out all the facts with no political bias one way or the other can be found HERE. Its a long video but it is very thorough. Now if masks are mandated by the local government or your employer you have to decide for your self based on your situations. Now here is the rub, Nothing taken to the extreme will ever be good for you. Whether its Drinking Eating sweets, smoking, wearing a mask, using hand sanitizers or neurotically washing your hands. If we try to live in a sterile environment and never come into contact with bacteria and viruses our immune systems break down and become less effective or in some cases completely ineffective. Like a muscle that’s not getting exercised eventually it will atrophy and when you need to use it you wont be able to. We are all adults and can make out own decisions. If you want to wear one wear one if you don’t then don’t. But don’t get in fights with, insult, or assault people who don’t agree with you and be ready to face any consequences that there may be for your choice.
Bugs can spread a number of diseases around the world. Malaria, Zika, West Nile are a few from recent history. Many of these diseases cannot be prevented with a vaccine or medications but you can reduce your risk by taking steps to prevent bug bites. The obvious option is bug spray but there is some things that you should know about bug sprays to make sure that you are using the correct kind for your situation. Also this is only one option and I always recommend a multi layer approach when it comes to security whether its from burglars or bugs.
Starting with bug spray make sure that the main ingredient is deet. Some sprays made only for mosquitoes may use other ingredients. Deet however works on both mosquitoes and ticks. Also make sure that the concentrations is at least 20%. You can even find 100% deet sprays. The higher the concentrations the stronger it is and the longer it lasts. There may be some health concern with higher concentrations of deet which is why its harder to find these days but you can still find it and like everything else moderation is key. As long as your relatively healthy, not drinking it and not using it everyday for the rest of your life your body should be able to detox it out with our issues when your back home.
Mosquito nets are another popular option, they are a super fine mesh that lets air in and keeps bugs out. Made to go around your head or around your whole bed. I personally don’t like the ones that go around your head but I will use them with tents or ones that go around your bed. That’s just me.
Covering as much skin as you can is probably the easiest preventative measure. This is not 100 percent as some mosquitoes and other bugs can bite through clothing, just ask an Alaskan about their mosquitoes. But paired with Bug spray this can help a lot. They also make anti bug clothing that is worn as a base layer specifically to stop biting insects. I don’t have a lot of experience with them but I will be testing some in the near future and Ill keep you updated.
We will be covering what to do with with bug bites in a future series on first aide so I wont cover it here. But Ill just say this don’t scratch them!
Do wash your hands and don’t touch your face and avoid crowded areas especially when you’re traveling in a region that has illnesses that your immune system is not used to fighting off. If your destination has the risk of bug borne illnesses be sure to bring bug spray and take precautions to avoid bites.