Every day, people encounter germs and viruses that can cause health problems that range from small, short-term sickness to major illness. Many of these can be prevented or controlled by practicing good hygiene habits, such as washing hands regularly, especially before preparing or eating food and after using the bathroom.
Everyone can learn about hygiene and improve personal health. Help stop the spread of germs with our handwashing pamphlets, winners of the National Health Information Award. Other materials cover cold and flu prevention, bronchitis, sun care, body art and body piercings.
Common cold prevention
Common colds are the main reason that children miss school and adults miss work. Every year, there are millions of cases of the common cold. Adults have an average of two to three colds a year, and children have even more. Most people recover within about a week to 10 days, but people with weakened immune systems may develop serious illness, such as bronchitis or pneumonia.
None of the over-the-counter cold medicines available on store shelves will prevent the common cold. These medicines only treat the symptoms.
One of the best proven ways to prevent the spread of germs that cause colds is to wash your hands with soap and water. It’s simple, really!
Viruses that cause colds can spread from one infected person to others through the air and close personal contact. Germs can spread when someone coughs or sneezes. Germs can spread when you shake hands with someone who has a cold or touch a surface that has germs on it—such as a doorknob, remote control or phone—and then touch your eyes, mouth or nose.
We have materials for adults and for children that discuss how to avoid spreading cold germs by regularly washing your hands, avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands, and covering your coughs or sneezes.
Taking care of the flu
Up to 1 in 5 people in the U.S. get the flu each year. Some of the same hygiene habits that prevent the spread of cold germs also prevent the spread of flu germs: regular hand-washing and covering your cough or sneeze. But there are additional steps people can take to prevent the flu, including getting a yearly vaccine. Our materials make the information clear and accessible.