As we know washing our hands is a very healthy thing to do. But just how healthy is it?

A recent study by the University of Southampton said that washing your hands can lead to a 10% to 20% reductions in infections and consultations.

Researchers took over 20,000 and split them into two groups. One group was given the URL of a website to check out that encouraged people to wash their hands. The other group didn’t get access.

From a Guardian.com article:

After three years of follow-up, Paul Little and his team found that those in the website group reported having fewer colds, flu and gastroenteric infections. Participants’ immediate families saw similar health benefits. And these self-reported findings were confirmed as those in the handwash website arm of the study also showed up less often in GPs’ surgeries and were prescribed fewer antibiotics.

Plain old hand washing is still perhaps our best defense against things like pandemic flu. Washing our hands can also prevent against superbugs like E coli and Staphylococcus aureus.

This is especially enlightening and heartening information in the wake of news that many such superbugs are becoming resistant to antibiotics.

The same Guardian article goes on to say that, “globally less than one in five people wash their hands when they should. This results in some 650,000 needless deaths a year, largely in countries with high levels of endemic infections.

Maybe the next time we see someone leave a public bathroom without washing their hands we could mention this article? :-p Ok, maybe not, but we can pass this information around and let people know just how good it is to wash our hands.