A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the more frequently you wash your body, the better your chances of getting the flu.
The study analyzed data from more than 7,000 participants between January 2011 and January 2017.
Researchers found that washing your hands more frequently in the first week of the flu season, followed by the second week of flu season were associated with lower risk of infection and higher levels of antibody antibodies.
“Our data suggest that washing hands twice daily for two weeks is the best strategy for preventing the onset of the virus in the body,” said Dr. Jana Pajic, the study’s lead author and a professor of microbiology at the University of California, Davis.
“If you do it twice a day, you’re not going to get a good picture of what’s going on, and if you do twice a night, you don’t get a very good picture,” she said.
The findings have implications for how we think about what counts as a safe environment for the flu virus, and what we can do to prevent it.
The researchers said that although people were likely to be washing their hands at home, this study shows that washing twice a month might be a better strategy than washing once a week.
They also recommend people wash their hands after eating.
“Washing your hands with soap and water after eating is not a very efficient way of preventing infection because you have a much smaller window of opportunity to get the virus on your hands,” Pajac said.
“You can get a small amount of the germs on your skin and it’s a very, very small amount compared to the amount that you would need to get if you were doing it daily.”
The researchers did find that people who did wash their bodies twice a year were less likely to get sick during the second and third weeks of flu seasons.
The risk of contracting the flu was reduced for washing twice daily, but that wasn’t the case for people who washed their hands less frequently.
Pajico said that while the research doesn’t prove that washing once or twice a daily will be more effective than washing twice or thrice a day for the duration of the pandemic, it does indicate that the time it takes to wash once or thrash twice is much longer than it used to be.
“It’s certainly a positive result,” she told ABC News.
“The data suggests that washing with soap is a very effective strategy, but it’s also a very small window of time and it takes a lot of practice to do so effectively.”
Pajicc also noted that it’s possible that washing is just not as important as washing in general.
“There are a lot more people who are washing their bodies than washing their clothes and other things,” she noted.
“We have no data on that, and so we don’t know how much people are washing.”
In general, people are more likely to become ill if they don’t wash their clothes or use a toilet seat that’s close to where they’re washing their body, Pajica said.
And washing is also an important step for avoiding infections, and avoiding symptoms of the disease, Pabic said.