Self-inoculation? What does this weird word actually mean?

It’s common knowledge that there are certain times we are supposed to wash our hands, like before cooking and eating or after using the bathroom. Pretty obvious, right! 

But lately, it’s a whole lot more than that. Just like there is a reason for washing your hands after using the bathroom, there is also a reason you need to be washing your hands oh so much more now.

What’s the reason? Why has everything changed?

The coronavirus pandemic(PAN-DEM-IC) — When a new disease spreads around the world because there is no resistance to it—but you already knew that answer. However, we don’t want to just stop at the surface answer. Let’s dig into it.

To be infected by the coronavirus, it has to enter your body. The most common entry places are your eyes, nose, or mouth. And... how many times an hour do you touch those things with your hands? We don’t have to give you a number from a study for you to believe that it’s a whole lot per hour. Just count for the next hour or so, you'll see.

You also know that no matter how hard you try, you will eventually instinctively just have to touch your face when that sudden itch descends upon you.

Instant replay: Hand to eye. "Oh man... it happened again." 

hands
What’s easier than fighting every instinct in your body? Washing your hands (20 seconds with soap).

If the coronavirus isn’t on your hands when you go for the itch, you won’t infect yourself or—if we want to use the doctor word—self-inoculate.

Yes, that is a weird doctor word. And, if you have been confused by it over the last couple of weeks, it’s not your fault. Health professionals use it in so many ways!

Inoculate means to introduce or move something to someplace new. So self-inoculation means introducing something to a new part of yourself. 

Or—less awkwardly said and relevant to the coronavirus—you are transferring or moving the virus(VAI-RUS) — A foreign invader in the body that causes cells to function differently and can be spread to others through direct and indirect paths from one part of your body to another. Like from your hands to your mouth.  

How did it get on your hands? One of two ways.
  • You came in contact with someone who had the disease, and a droplet(DROP-LET) — Small particle of water, mucus, or saliva that contained the virus landed on you. Yuck! This is why we are keeping a social distance(SOW-SHL DIS-TANCE) — The specific amount of space needed to prevent the spread of a specific disease between two individuals.
  • Or, you touched something that had the coronavirus already on it. Hence, cleaning surfaces contaminated or where the virus could have landed.

If you are practicing social distancing (we highly recommend you do) and can avoid direct contact altogether, hand washing is another very important layer of protection to reduce your worries.

And hand washing will also help reduce the chances of self-inoculation(SELF EH-NAH-CUE-LAY-SHUN) — Transferring a disease from one part of the body to any other after touching contaminated surfaces. While it is not known exactly how easy it is to transfer the virus via contaminated surfaces, it is still at least possible. Other viruses similar to the coronavirus can live on surfaces for hours to days.

Bottom line: Wash your hands! We want to see your dried (hopefully not cracked) hands.

Tip: Apply some of your personal hand lotion to help prevent the cracking.

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