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Obsessive Hand Washing

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posted on Dec, 11 2006 @ 06:27 PM
Over the past few years I've become more and more obsessed with keeping my hands clean. Some may think that this is just common sense to prevent the transfer of bacteria and virus but it's becoming more than that.

I find myself being acutely aware of surfaces I touch, and it's to the point that I've started repeatedly cleaning things I touch often.
I wash my hands after every trip outside my home.
I wash after every contact with another human or animal.
Even at home alone I wash my hands 30 - 40 times a day.
I've even bought disposable gloves from a medical supply store so I can wear them when I touch certain things.

The funny thing is, I'm not the cleanest guy in the world. Sure I shower on a daily basis and brush my teeth, but I don't care about there being dishes in the sink or clutter on the floor. I'm not overly concerned about the dirt and little messes in my life, but it seems my hands are becoming an obsession.

If any ATSers have any insight into this I'd be interested in your input.


posted on Dec, 11 2006 @ 07:16 PM
perhaps if you cleaned up more, your obsession of just having clean hands will alleviate. Perhaps you won't see the need to wash your hands so often if the dishes were washed and the house was clean?

I wash my hands often, but not as much as you do. I tend to however have a bottle of germX in every purse, car, drawer... etc.

[edit on 12-11-2006 by worldwatcher]

posted on Dec, 11 2006 @ 08:39 PM
Welcome to hand washers annonymous AD

I USED to wash my hands more than 130 times per day and often with a bleach water solution. Germs...nasty horrible germs...

I've been working on it and am now down to between 40-60 times per day depending on where I am and what I'm doing.

It's worse when I'm out in public "communal" places...the urge to wash is pretty strong. I carry wet-wipes and antibacterial gel for times when I can't manage even walking into a public washroom LMAO. It gets pretty weird.

I keep working at it and like you said being aware of the whens and whats that make you want to wash is the best way to counteract the obssession.

The world is a dirty place, and it's pumped into us that hand washing is the best defense against human pathogens...go figure.

Keep a good sense of humour about it too...hundreds of thousands of people suffer the same obsessive need.

It's mainly classified as a problem when it INTERFERES in your daily routine. If it creates a situation where washing your hands impedes your daily tasks.

If you can work around it, just continue to be aware of the times...write them down (I do everynow and then when I realize it's getting worse). Walk yourself through the urge...ask yourself why you need to...what would happen if you didn't wash? Measure the anxiety caused by NOT washing on a scale of 1-10...anything over a four is something to be watchful of.

Do this kind of "score keeping" for a week. Then you'll have a good idea if your washing is really problematic or if it's just a mild case.

Often times I satisfy the washing urge just by running warm water over my soap...other times I forgo hand washing entirely...if the stress isn't so bad (like when at home).

When you're at it worse or the same as when you're out?

There are a lot of other things you can do to help's not really a huge deal unless it takes hours out of your day or if you go snaky and resort to bleach or harsh chemicals to clean your hands with...

The average person, washes their hands about 20-25 times per day (and that's actually a high number). That is of course excluding those in professions where hands must be clean at all times like doctors, food handlers etc...then there are gloves to use instead/in addition to.

Keep track of your obsession to see where it falls on the scale of weirdness LOL.

posted on Dec, 11 2006 @ 08:43 PM

Originally posted by worldwatcher
perhaps if you cleaned up more, your obsession of just having clean hands will alleviate.

Don't get wrong, I have a wonderful man that washes up all my dishes, does the laundry, cleans the floors, vacuums daily, etc.......
Hell, he even does windows.

When I say "I'm not the cleanest guy in the world" I mean it's just that I don't do the cleaning.
I actually live in a very orderly home that's cleaned on a daily basis.

I'm just finding that my hands are becoming a focal point for cleanliness and I worry about what I touch.
I keep alcohol wipes near this computer so I can wipe the mouse and keyboard on a regular basis and always clean it after someone else uses it.

My hand washing has gotten to the point that several people have mentioned it.

EDIT: Thanks justgeneric

I'll keep a calender that I'll mark each time I wash my hands.
Perhaps becoming more aware of what I do will give me more insight into why I do it.

or if you go snaky and resort to bleach or harsh chemicals to clean your hands with...

It was using hydrogen peroxide on my hands that made a couple people mention my hand cleaning was becoming obsessive.....

[edit on 11/12/2006 by anxietydisorder]

posted on Dec, 11 2006 @ 09:23 PM
didn't mean to imply I thought you were a slob either.

just remember to moisturize those hands though after you wash them. Have tried using the antibacterial stuff instead of physically washing your hands?

and yeah, you'll probably spend more on the germx stuff than a bar of soap or wash, but it isn't as noticeable and you don't have to get up and leave a room or find a washroom as often as you normally do.

posted on Dec, 11 2006 @ 10:07 PM
Peroxide..yeah I did that too when I was in my early 20s...didn't even know it was weird to be honest. Quirky at best.

I think for most it's a control issue. We can't control how often or when the rest of the world washes their hands so we internalize and become determined that SOMEONE is going to be germ free...if not "them" then "Us".

I tend to wash at home after touching things that "may" be germy. My cats for one. The litter box, the food dishes...these I consider normal washing events.

Bathroom washing...a must. After handling garbage or certain food items...a must...

Washing after touching a communal doorknob is NOT a usual washing event.
Washing after touching the taps, or the fridge handle...or the keys...mundane events like that...these I classify as problematic washing. These are the ones that add up.

I have also been stared at and teased. I cannot use public washrooms as the ritual is far too time consuming and frankly it creeps people out.

I think the best thing to do is what you've already done...first concluding that it may be an irrational fear that's at work here. Starts off as a normal concern but in "us" phobics and OCD sufferers it becomes quite a bit different HA! To say the least.

The peroxide will dry your skin terribly will soaps and antibacterial agents. Stock up on a good moisturizer and try just rinsing hands in warm water without soaps or agents...after touching mundane things (if you get the urge) helps to retrain your response and you are still able to partially satisfy the urge to wash. Important is to mentally walk through each washing event. The more it stays in the forefront of your mind the better able you'll be to make changes and work WITH it to make it a more "average" event.

The patterns between sufferers is remarkable!

I too live in a very tidy home...though I've had to force myself to relax quite a bit on the psychotic cleaning and re-cleaning of everything...LOL...

As I am told it is all rooted in control or feelings of no control to be more exact, so we focus in on something that we can control that is completely our own.

posted on Dec, 11 2006 @ 10:44 PM

Originally posted by worldwatcher
Have tried using the antibacterial stuff instead of physically washing your hands?

No, but I might pick up a bottle.
The only time I use that is when I have to enter a medical building. If you go to a hospital, retirement home, dentist or doctor's office, clinic, hospice, etc.... You are require to sanitize your hands before you go in.


These buildings have sick people in them and they allow visitors to leave without even a basic hand wash.
They have a policy that reduces some contagions from entering the building, but they have no safeguards against Granny passing her infection into other family members that come to visit.

and you don't have to get up and leave a room or find a washroom as often as you normally do.

Don't get me started on public bathrooms.
I just don't go there if I can help it..

posted on Dec, 11 2006 @ 11:47 PM

Originally posted by justgeneric

You made a lot of good points.
I gave you a WayAbove

I can see how it will manifest in different people in unique ways.
You mentioned cats, and I only have a problem with touching one of my cats, but that cat has a habit of barfing on the carpet sometimes. All I can do is put a cloth over the

If I tried to clean it I'd be running for a bucket myself. :shk:

I'm just thankful it's cleaned up soon after I throw a cover over it.
Everyone should have a person in their lives that loves you enough to put up with your idiosyncrasies.

I'll analyze this over the next couple weeks and see what happens, and I'll try to post some sort of results.

posted on Dec, 12 2006 @ 11:34 AM
When I was a kid -- about 12 years old or so -- I believe that I was indulging in obsessive hand-washing. I used to wash my hands every chance I had. It was especially bad when my family would travel and I had to use the rest room at a highway rest stop. I felt that no matter what I did, I was still "infested" with germs (ugh).

I probably continued this behavior for years. My salvation was the introduction of the hand-sanitizer. You know, those little pocket sized containers of some aloe lotion with a high alcohol content. They advertise these hand-sanitizers as being capable of killing 99 percent of the germs!

I don't know why exactly, but just that bit of knowledge somehow satisfies my unconscious mind. Of course I still wash my hands but certainly not to the extent that I used to (believe me, it was excessive). Now I simply use the hand-sanitizer throughout the day, especially after (and during) exposure to the general public and public places.

Incidentally, I recently went on a cruise of the Western Caribbean. I was very pleased to see "hand sanitizer stations" throughout the ship. I am sure that they were established to help limit the incidence of virus and contamination in such confined environments as found on cruise ships. I don't think I ever passed one of these stations without making use of them.

posted on Dec, 12 2006 @ 06:42 PM
I love those hand washing stations!! now if Translink will take the numerous requests to install the stations at some of the major bus stops and bus loops...too bad it can't be on the buses themselves!!

A few larger malls have them in the hall ways on the way to the public toilets...sadly they are almost always empty.

Still I like my antibacterial wet wipes. Stuff 'em ina baggy and into the pocket or purse...they even have individual packets that you can buy in bulk at Costco...

It's funny...when I'm camping or roughing it...washing my hands is the farthest thing from my mind...the closer to "urbania" I am the more I feel compelled.

Guess I know what I need to do huh? LMAO... for the hills!

posted on Dec, 12 2006 @ 07:52 PM
Be careful with this, I would recommend you see a doctor. I have had this, I know what it is. It's a neurochemical imbalence in the brain. It results in a condition known as OCD (obcessive compulsive disorder).

See a doctor before it gets worse!

posted on Dec, 12 2006 @ 08:13 PM
Xphiles...yes it is classic OCD and is almost always accompanied by other phobias and rituals.

Drugs aren't needed though. They can help in severe cases, but overall admitting there is a problem, learning about it, talking about it and learning "skills" to overcome it are the best way. This is not a congenital issue. It's a learned response and as such it can be un-learned.

Medical follow up is always beneficial when there is something interfering with our daily functioning. Be it mental or physical...drugs are not the cure-all. Any psychologist or psychiatrist worth their salt would be the first to admit this.

Most corrective measures start with self-help. That is admitting something's not "right" and then doing something about it.

posted on Dec, 13 2006 @ 10:55 AM
Great thread! I'm somewhat of a compulsive hand washer myself. I don't wash as often as JG or anxietydisorder, but quite often. I would say maybe 20 to 30 times a day. But if I am cooking, that number goes way up. In the preparation of just one meal, especially if meat is involved, I could easily add another 30 times to that.

Deffinately a little bit on the OCD side, but to some extent, I think it is due to my mother who was a nurse. She was very, very picky about cleanliness as it relates to germs. When I was a kid, my room was always messy, but I was squeeky clean!

posted on Dec, 13 2006 @ 05:50 PM

Originally posted by DCFusion
But if I am cooking, that number goes way up. In the preparation of just one meal, especially if meat is involved, I could easily add another 30 times to that.

I love to cook, and yes, cooking a meal adds a lot of hand washing to my regimen. I always use disposable surgical gloves when I handle raw meat so I can just pull them off and never come in contact with it.
I also never put meat on a counter because that surface never feels clean even after its been washed with bleach. If I need to cut raw meat before cooking I use a plate that goes in the dishwasher along with any knives etc...

I started marking a piece of paper yesterday each time I washed and today I found myself trying not to run to the sink each time I felt like it.
I find that if I don't respond to the urge it starts to weigh on my mind to the point I start feeling my skin get itchy. But then I don't want to scratch because my hands feel dirty. :shk:

I will take the suggestion that a few people have made, I'm picking up a bottle of that hand sanitizing liquid when I go into town tomorrow. I'll also get some moisturizer because my hands are quite dry and sometimes get small painful cracks.

For now I don't think I'll take this to the doctor.
Their offices are full of germs from all those sick people that visit him.

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