Cold and flu and washing hands

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Ahhh, the cold weather is here with vengeance.  In Canberra it seems like only yesterday it was so hot that the kids were complaining about the car airconditioner not being strong enough.  And now the wet and wind has set in and much of the beautiful autumn foliage has confettied down to the ground.  It is also the season for colds and flu.

Autumn colours

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, the change of seasons (principally Autumn to Winter) is when your body is most susceptible to colds and flu.  Most Chinese people are quite fastidious about wearing warm clothes, especially about ensuring that children are warmly dressed.

But from a Western medical perspective, there are many reasons for colds and flus spreading.  And a good way to avoid getting the cold and flu is simply by ensuring good personal hygiene, namely by washing your hands.

Maybe it is a Taiwanese/Chinese thing, but we are big on hand washing in our household.  The kids have been drilled from an early age to take off their shoes and wash their hands as soon as they get home.  This is especially important in winter, and especially if we have been on public transport.  And of course, there is often a lot of hand and face washing AFTER dinner as well.

Little A after eating pasta for dinner

One thing I do miss about Taiwan is how incredibly CLEAN everything is.  At supermarkets such as RT Mart, there would be messages to tell you how the shopping trolleys were disinfected periodically.  And at all stations on the East Coast’s high speed rail, the escalator sides are disinfected every few two hours.  Just in case.

This may sound paranoid (only the paranoid survive), but in a dense urban setting where the population has endured SARS and most recently various outbreaks of the Avian flu, it pays to have good personal hygiene.  There is I believe an tendency in Australia to over rely on the theory that you need a bit of germs in order to build up your immune system.  This is fine to a point: until your child vomits over breakfast and you have to miss that important work meeting or long-awaited date night out. Or when you, as the main carer, get so sick you can hardly get out of bed let alone look after children who are totally dependent on you.

And the ‘building up your immune system’ argument only really works for healthy adults and children.  Big A was born two months’ prematurely, and due to complications with his lungs, struggled to pull through his first night in a humidicrib.  For the longest time afterwards we had to ensure that he was not exposed to anyone with colds or flus, because he was still weak and had a strong risk of complications.  At one point I was furious because my hospital roommate let her partner, who was recovering from a bad flu, sleep in her bed during the day. If I had gotten sick, I would not have been able to see my baby for a week or more.  And if the baby had gotten sick, well I would not want to think about it.

Let’s not go there.  Suffice to say that some people, such as sick children and elder people, are not as resilient to the dread lurgy.

Recently, I was privileged to trial some Dettol products.  My favourite was the Dettol Revitalise Antibacterial Hand wash with Raspberry and Pomegranate.  OMG, this smells so amazing – really fresh and lovely and 2A loved it as well.  I also liked a form based Rose and Cherry in Bloom handwash (you can tell I really get into the whole handwashing thing).

To celebrate the colder weather, I have a special offer the following to give away to one lucky blog reader a package of the following Dettol products:

Dettol Revitalise Antibacterial Hand wash with Raspberry and Pomegranate
Dettol Power & Pure Wipes
Dettol A Touch of Foam Rose and Cherry in Bloom

To enter, leave a comment to say why you believe it is important to wash your hands.


  1. Both girls and I have the sniffles at the moment. Fingers crossed we don’t get stuck in that dreaded cycle of passing the germs from one to the next and do on. So lots of hand washing at our place at the moment. I should purchase some shares in Detol and Kleenex! 🙂

  2. When I was very young, my parents were surprised I had learnt the phrase “Wash your hands” in English so quickly. I would say it right before meal times but they soon realised I didn’t actually know the meaning of the phrase, I just knew that’s what people said before they were fed!!! Moral of the story, it’s important to “wash your hands” so you can eat!! 😀

  3. It’s important to wash hands, especially at this time of year when there’s so many colds and sniffles around. There are stats online which show that washing hands is a simple procedure which can dramatically reduce the occurrence of pneumonia and other diseases, including eye infections.

    Here’s a little poem for your boys 🙂

    Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
    See how clean my two hands are
    Soap and water, wash and scrub
    Get those germs off, rub a dub
    Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
    See how clean my two hands are

  4. Congratulations on hosting your first giveaway. It’s the beginning of a long cold winter in Canberra and a great time to remind us all to wash our hands regularly {espeically if we have young children in the house}.

  5. I’ll admit I’ve never been much of a clean freak but having kids has certainly improved my skills! With a little one coming home from daycare/school each day bringing who-knows-what on her hands we’ve had to crack down hard on the whole hand washing routine! She doesn’t mind it though – especially if it’s bubbly and smells yum!

  6. So when you put your hands to your face (mouth & eyes) you don’t consume pooh or wee particles!!! And not just the possibility of your own, but other peoples ewwwwwwww Have seen things on TV about beer nuts in pubs and how many poop particles are in them, it’s so gross how can anyone not wash their hands!!!???

  7. We have a lot of animals,dogs,cats, sheep and chickens that the kids are always playing with I always make sure they wash their hands when they come indoors never know what little germs may be lurking around the place

    1. Sounds like you have a lot of animals in your house! The kids must love being in that environment and playing with the animals. But yes, hygiene is especially important around animals.

  8. To avoid nasties like gastro! We all had it last year and it’s the worst, especially when you are so sick you can barley get up to tend to the other sickies in the household. I’m all for hand-washing!

    1. How awful! I can totally relate to how hellish it can be dealing with a household full of sick people. Especially when you are the one looking after everyone.

  9. Because it’s disgusting not to wash them. Touching this and that, germs easily transferred from anything and everything, have to wash those dirty little buggers off so they don’t make you sick!

  10. Germs spread so easy. I work at a Centre and we talk about germs and how they can make us sick. We teach our children that they need to wash their hands, before and after meals to keep them clean. Washing hands after toileting and if playing with pets, as they carry diseases. Putting things like toys in their mouths and then another child puts it in their mouth is also not good, as we need to clean our toys on a day to day basis. Children learn from a small age which they can pass on to others when not doing the right thing. So important.

  11. I have been working in a library for 11 years, at the returns desk, and you can easily tell when books have been used as a patrons bathroom reading

  12. With 6 people in the house, when one gets it, we all get it, and it’s horrendous! Hand washing means that getting sick is greatly reduced, so we enforce it at all times!

  13. Stopping the spreading of germs. GOt to keep an eye on those sneaky kids, sometimes they forget when their play is on their mind!

  14. It is so important, especially when we recently had our 3rd baby, I was fanatical with my oldest 2 about washing their hands before cuddling her.

  15. My son knows he doesn’t want to miss out on kinder or day care (because he gets sick) so he washes his hands whenever I tell him to.

  16. Great Topic. I have worked in Child Care and washing hands is very important. Kids will get the sniffles its a known fact, they will put things in their mouths and share things with one another. Always sanitize and disinfect toys. Thank you for sharing.

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