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Keeping Your Family Healthy this Winter

Winter is upon us and with it children are likely to bring the flu or other illnesses home from school.  Before you know it, the entire house can often be coughing and nose blowing and valuable days and weeks are lost from school and work.  How can you prevent your house from becoming germ infested?

It all comes down to hand washing.  Nothing is as important as diligence to handwashing in children and adults.  Teach your children to wash their hands properly – use soap (any kind is fine!) and warm water and teach scrubbing for about 20 seconds.  Usually singing “Happy birthday to you!” is the right amount of time and a good distraction that makes it fun.

If using hand sanitizer, also allow it time to dry in order to be effective- just remember hand sanitizer often isn’t effective against gastrointestinal viruses.  Children should be in the practice of washing before meals, after the bathroom, and after blowing their noses.  After getting your children to master handwashing, don’t forget to wash yourself!

Other tips for keeping illness at bay in your house: Minimize sharing at meals, especially when you have a sick child.  Also, don’t forget that if siblings share the same cup to rinse after brushing teeth at night, this is a good time to encourage separate cups.  Throw tissues away after use instead of letting them build up and having children reuse them again and again.

Finally, without making yourself too crazy, think of sanitizing the most likely places for germs – think about the TV remote, door knobs and of course your cell phones, iPads and other frequently used toys.

Don’t forget to get your flu shot for yourself and your children!

Paige Perriello, MD, FAAP
Pediatric Associates of Charlottesville

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