You’re always told to wash your hands. But why?

The answer is often, “So you don’t get germs.”  What is a germ?

First, germs are very tiny.

Smaller than the tip of your pinkie finger.

Smaller than the head of a pin.

Smaller than the point of a pin.

You can’t see them with a magnifying glass.

You can’t see them with a school microscope!

Are they invisible?

No.

You can see them with a very powerful microscope.

How can something so small make you sick?

When you sleep, your body repairs and restores itself. When you eat, you get the building blocks for growth and repair. If you don’t get enough sleep, or eat right, you are in a weakened state, and more likely to get sick.

To keep your bodytip top, go to bed on time, eat healthy, exercise, and get some fresh air!

Why do I have to wash my hands all the time?

If someone sneezes or coughs, they can spread germs. If you touch your nose, mouth or eyes you leave germs there, and get your germs on your hands.

If someone sneezes or coughs, they can spread germs. If you touch your nose, mouth or eyes you leave germs there, and get your germs on your hands.

Washing hands removes the germs.

Imagine you are finger painting with germs. Every time you touch something, where you would leave paint, you leave or pick up germs. Then, if you wiggle a tooth—YUCK! GERMS!

But what IS a germ?

One group of germs are bacteria. Not all bacteria are bad. Some help us digest food and some live in our soil and help plants grow. Some, though, cause diseases like strep throat, stomach aches, or lung infections. When conditions are right, bacteria multiply quickly and spread throughout your body, maybe causing a disease.

Another group of germs are viruses. In some ways they are like a chemical. They can form crystals. To make more viruses, though, they need a living cell (smallest unit of a living thing). They inject information into a cell that tells it to make more viruses. Colds, influenza (flu), and Covid-19 are all caused by viruses. Viruses can live outside a human body for a while, depending on the virus and surface.

So what can I do?

Your body is doing its job right now! It is fighting all of these germs with your immune system.  Your body has special cells that “eat” bacteria. It also makes proteins (antibodies) that attack invaders. They stay around after an attack, to keep you from getting sick again.

But sometimes your body needs help from your doctor to fight a disease. Certain medicines can help fight bacteria and viruses, so you feel great again!

But the best thing you can do is keep it from happening! Don’t put your hands, pencils, or pens in your mouth. Keep your immune system tip top by eating right and getting enough sleep. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough (sometimes even wear a mask),

and WASH THOSE HANDS to wash the germs away!

RESOURCES

Virus and Bacteria : Difference – Biology for Kids | Mocomi

Difference Between Viruses & Bacteria: Lesson for Kids | Study.com

Bacteria and Viruses Facts, Worksheets & Basic Information For Kids (kidskonnect.com)

Differences Between Bacteria and Viruses (thoughtco.com)

Teaching Kids About Germs: 4 Interesting Activities You Should Try (momjunction.com)