Parents are being warned to teach children the importance of hand hygiene or face another potential winter vomiting bug epidemic, after new research highlighted that a child can accidentally spread germs across as many as 240 surfaces in just two hours – or nearly 1,000 in an eight hour period.
The ‘Journey of the Germ’ study commissioned by hand hygiene experts, Cuticura and led by The Hygiene Doctor Prof Lisa Ackerely, monitored three children from the same family with a mixture of ‘kid cams’, UV dust and parental diaries. The findings cast new light on just how far our little ones explore in the home when our backs are turned and how everyday items turn into potential contamination hotspots, depending on their activity and hygiene habits.
A shocking finding revealed one child did not wash their hands after going to the toilet and proceeded to touch 22 surfaces a total of 89 different times, including the walls, blanket and the sofa.
During the investigation, another child failed to wash their hands after sneezing and then touched 37 items including eight hand-contact surfaces (walls, sofa and table), which could have been contaminated with respiratory pathogens.
The third child in the experiment touched several dirty items including the skateboard, which was likely to be heavily contaminated with dirt and even faeces from outdoor use. In just two hours the child touched 66 items at 240 points, including 18 hand-contact sites like door handles and iPad a total of 90 times.
In addition to the study, a survey was carried out by Cuticura with 1,000 UK parents to discover the nation’s hygiene habits in the home. According to the findings, half of parents (50 per cent) admit their child doesn’t wash their hands after going to the toilet and nearly one in five (17 per cent) think their child fibs about washing hands when they haven’t. According to the survey, a third of parents (33 per cent) admit they haven’t spent time teaching their children how to wash their hands properly and one in ten are happy to let children wash their hands their own way, they are just happy they are doing it at all.
With three quarters (75 per cent) of parents revealing their children have had a cold in the past year and nearly two thirds (59 per cent) have suffered from vomiting or diarrhoea, the results highlight the importance of parents teaching their children about practising good hand hygiene from an early age and using a long-lasting anti-bacterial hand wash, to help avoid the spread of germs in the home.
Watch our video to find out how Lila aged 3, Darcy aged 8 and Elliott aged 11 fared during the experiment.