Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

Want to Stay Healthy? Try Washing Your Hands

Dirty digits are the fastest way to communicate infectious germs, experts say


What about the fingernails? Is it necessary to use a nail brush?

Alison Pittman, a nurse and assistant professor at the College of Nursing at Texas A&M Health Sciences Center in Bryan, said you don't need a special brush to clean under your fingernails. Just be sure to get the soap and water under your nails, she advised.

Does water temperature matter?

No, said Morano. But, if you use water that's too hot, you probably won't wash long enough. It's more important to use soap for a longer period of time.

Do you need to use antibacterial soap?

"Soap and water are a good solution for dirty hands," Pittman said. "Any soap has ingredients that break the cells of the bacteria, killing them." And, if there's no soap or water available, "use an alcohol-based sanitizer that's at least 60 percent alcohol -- although these products aren't as effective if hands are visibly soiled," she said.

Do some soaps clean better than others? Should they contain specific ingredients?

Any soap will do, said Pittman.

Does a quick rinse do anything for your hands?

A quick rinse won't clean your hands. Rather, Morano said, washing for a while with soap is what gets your hands clean.

Isn't exposure to some bacteria supposed to be good for you, because it builds up resistance?

"Exposure to small amounts of germs is probably good for you, but it's unsafe to play with a jar of salmonella," Morano said. "That dose is higher than the body can deal with."

What Morano means is that no one needs to go out of their way to be exposed to germs. Everyone encounters a significant number of microbes throughout the day, and the immune system is constantly being challenged. As he said, you don't need to add to the challenge by not washing your hands.

Do hands need to be washed after gardening?

The CDC recommends washing your hands after gardening, even if you were wearing gloves, because there are bacteria and parasites in some areas of soil.

Can you get sick from touching a pet?

Today on WebMD

man holding his stomach
Get the facts on common problems.
blueberries in a palm
Best and worst foods.
woman shopping
Learn what foods to avoid.
fresh and dried plums
Will it help constipation?
top foods for probiotics
couple eating at cafe
sick child
Woman blowing bubble gum

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Woman with crohns in pain
Woman with stomach pain
diet for diverticulitis
what causes diarrhea