Lesson to learn on hand hygiene

One in four parents admits their child was absent from school for up to a week last year because of contagious illnesses that can all be prevented by hand washing, according to new research.

With one in 10 children under the age of 10 missing between one and two weeks of school because of illnesses such as vomiting, sickness and flu, The Co-operative Pharmacy, which commissioned the research has called the absenteeism worrying and unnecessary.

As the new school term begins, the pharmacy is urging parents to educate their children about the importance of basic hand hygiene practices.

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Apparenlty, one in seven parents have never taught their children how to wash their hands properly.

Despite this, more than half of those questioned recognise that poor hand hygiene contributes to the spread of illnesses such as flu.

Alison Lyons, a pharmacist at The Co-operative Pharmacy, said: “It is never too early to educate children about the importance of hand washing.

“The new school term will see many children in one place all sharing resources and as the classroom can be a breeding ground for germs that cause colds and flu, it is the perfect time to promote good habits in the home.

“Parents often don’t realise that they are putting their child at risk by not teaching them the basic principles of good hand hygiene.

“Introducing all family members to a hand washing routine reduces the risk of contracting serious infections, but also spreading them amongst family and friends.”