Cleanliness Rules Germaphobes' Lives (cont.)

To wash properly:

  • Wet your hands and apply liquid or clean bar soap. Place bar soap on a soap dish that allows it to drain.
  • Rub your hands together vigorously, scrubbing all surfaces for 15 to 20 seconds. That's about how long it takes to hum "Happy Birthday" twice.
  • Rinse well and dry your hands. In a public restroom, use the air dryer or paper towels.
  • In the absence of soap and water, use alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers.


Guardino recommends several self-help books: The OCD Workbook: Your Guide to Breaking Free from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, by Bruce M. Hyman, PhD; Stop Obsessing! How to Overcome Your Obsessions and Compulsions, by Edna B. Foa, PhD, and Reid Wilson, PhD; Everything In Its Place: My Trials and Triumphs With Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, by Marc Summers and Eric Hollander, MD; and OCD Casebook: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, by John H. Greist and James W. Jefferson.

In addition, the Freedom From Fear web site has a directory of mental health professionals that can be searched by ZIP code. "We only list people who will give the first consultation free," says Guardino. "We know a free consultation will increase the probability that people will get into the mental health system."

Published July 12, 2004.

SOURCES: CDC. Mary Guardino, executive director, Freedom From Fear, Staten Island, N.Y. Obsessive-Compulsive Foundation.

Last Editorial Review: 4/26/2005

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