A Teen's Hand-Washing Advice

By Dr. Robert Wallace

September 15, 2020 5 min read

DR. WALLACE: I'd like to remind all of my fellow teenagers (and all of your other readers) that the best way to avoid catching any COVID-19 germs or the flu is to wash one's hands frequently, especially before eating. But don't forget that it's also important to not touch one's hands or fingers to the mouth, eyes or nostrils. Our whole family has become pretty compulsive about hand-washing, so I think about this topic every day, and even though we should all know this by now, I feel it's important to have a teen remind fellow teens to be careful and stay vigilant. That's why I am writing to you about this subject today!

Please allow me to inform your readers that proper hand-washing techniques do not actually require warm water! Any temperature of water is fine, and any soap will do the job. We don't need some special antibacterial soap that costs a lot more money than a regular bar of soap. Rubbing soapy hands for a minimum of 20 seconds is necessary to gain the protection we all seek. It's the friction of rubbing the hands together that is most important! How do I know this? Well, my mom's best friend is a nurse, and she came over to our house a few months ago to tell us everything she knew about the dangers of the COVID-19 virus and how we can best protect ourselves from catching it.

Health professionals agree that proper hand-washing is the best preventative medicine for children, teens and adults. Besides COVID-19, colds and flu, other ailments, including infections and diarrhea, are easily transmitted to and from human hands! This is so gross! We will soon be in the midst of our normal flu season on top of everything else, so, fellow teens, be careful! — An Informed and Hygienic Teen, via email

INFORMED AND HYGIENIC TEEN: Thank you for your letter. The fact that it is primarily directed at your fellow teens makes sense. Since most young people are at a low risk for serious illness, there could be a subconscious lack of urgency for some teens. Your letter covers the common sense that many forms of media have been explaining for months now, but I truly commend you for your concern and how seriously you're taking health and hygiene these days.

I'm happy to honor your request, and I hope that many other young people will follow in your footsteps in taking this pandemic seriously.


DR. WALLACE: I have a moderate complexion problem that has lingered for a while now. It started about six months ago, and for the past three months, it hasn't gotten much better, if at all. My father feels that my complexion will clear up soon without any medical attention on its own. How long will it take for me to have clear skin, and what else do I need to do if I want it to clear up as fast as possible? My mom also recently said to me that she doesn't want me to go to a doctor right now due to the COVID-19 virus. This makes me worry even more about everything. What should I do? Will my face clear up on its own like my dad thinks it will? — Mild Case, Bigger Worry, via email

MILD CASE, BIGGER WORRY: It's true that most teens do outgrow complexion problems, but the time period is often from one to seven years! So, with that in mind, it's not worth risking that your complexion will clear up in one year or so.

Over-the-counter medication can now often dramatically improve a moderate complexion problem. Sit down with your parents, and study what might be best to try and what it will cost. Hopefully, they will agree to let you try this path initially to see what results you might achieve.

If your complexion problems do not improve with over-the-counter treatments, then it would be time to consider seeing a dermatologist before your situation develops into a larger challenge. Many medical offices are able to be open safely these days, using the standard safety protocols that have become the norm during this time of COVID-19. I trust one or both of your parents could safely arrange a future visit, should it be necessary. Finally, don't forget that videoconferencing might be an option for you as well. A doctor could see your complexion this way and might be able to make a diagnosis for you that can put you on the path to successful treatment.

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: slavoljubovski at Pixabay

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