Publication Date

Spring 5-9-2016


School of Health Sciences


Biology: Biomedical Sciences


Handwashing, Ignaz Semmelweis, Psychology


Cellular and Molecular Physiology | Environmental Microbiology and Microbial Ecology | Integumentary System | Microbial Physiology


This paper covers three different areas concerning handwashing. First a review of the history of handwashing is done, going from ancient times to its introduction into modern medicine via Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis. This section gives a sobering reminder not to instantly reject data that comes in conflict with prevalent thought.

Then current medical knowledge about handwashing is examined, and the conclusion reached states that handwashing is best done with non-antibacterial soap.

Finally, a review of the psychology of handwashing shows that medical professionals often tend toward neglect if unwatched and unmotivated by an outside source. However, those suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder tend to wash their hands so often that it damages the normal flora and anatomy of the hands.