This winter more than ever, staying germ-free is at the top of everyone’s priority list, as the Covid pandemic continues to bring our health into sharp focus. But when the cold weather has us scuttling away indoors, how can you actually minimise the risk of picking up any bug or virus?

With the core mantra of ‘hands, face, space’ now so familiar, we look at the essential ways you can keep yourself safe during these cold months with our Guide to Beating the Germs this Winter.

Stock up on essential medication

And finally, having a supply of essential cold and flu medication, including paracetamol, cough medicine and decongestant remedies, can manage the impact if you do succumb to a cold or the flu. Taken as soon as you start to experience symptoms can help to minimise their effect and bring you welcome relief, but if you find yourself without medications, Express Pharmacy will deliver them right to your door.. Combined with keeping warm, hydrated and eating well, as well as away from others, and you should soon be over your winter bug and back on your feet.

Wash your hands

No matter how clean you think your hands are, they can always be a breeding ground for germs. When you touch a door handle, shake someone’s hand or touch a surface, you are running the risk of collecting germs that cannot only make you sick, but you can also transfer to others. The secret to managing this germ transfer is to wash your hands regularly and thoroughly – for at least 20 seconds – and always carry a hand sanitiser gel for those quick on-the-spot hand hygiene moments.

Avoid touching your face

As well as keeping your hands clean, another essential when it comes to beating winter germs is to avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth as these are the most common places for germs to get into your system.  Germs can also live on surfaces for up to 18 hours, so if you haven’t washed your hands regularly, those germs can be lurking, ready to be transferred if you touch your face.

Wear a mask

While the coronavirus pandemic has made mask-wearing a familiar sight, wearing a mask when in close proximity to others can also help to protect you from other winter viruses and germs. As flu and the common cold are also spread through infected respiratory droplets, then wearing a mask in public places can help to protect against others’ coughs and sneezes.

Get the flu vaccination

If you have the chance to be vaccinated, then make sure you get your flu jab every year.  Whilst for most people, a bout of the flu is deeply unpleasant, for some it can make them seriously ill, and lead to other health complications, especially if they have other underlying health problems. The best time to get the flu jab – and so beat the flu germs – is in the autumn although the vaccination can be given at any time of the year.

Boost your self-defence

Your immune system is vital to staving off any winter germs, so boosting your inner self-defence is key to keeping healthy and bug-free. Make sure you are eating a balanced diet, full of healthy fruit and vegetables, so you can up your intake of immune system boosting nutrients, including vitamin C and zinc. During the winter, when we are not spending so much time outdoors, you can also be low on the immune system-friendly vitamin D, so taking a vitamin D supplement is recommended.

It is also important to keep hydrated, so aim to drink around two litres of water every day.

Be careful what you share

To help prevent the spread of winter bugs, be careful of what you share with others, so you minimise your exposure to any germs. In the work or study place, don’t share pens, telephones, cups etc. and regularly wipe down any communal surfaces, especially if you know there is a winter bug going around.

Sleep well

A good night’s sleep can help to protect you against winter germs as it means your body’s systems are well-rested and ready to step into action. Research has shown a link between lack of sleep and a reduced immune system, so try to get at least seven hours of quality sleep a night.

Wrap up warm

You may think it’s an old wives’ tale, but getting cold can make you more likely to catch a winter bug.  Our immune system response can be impaired when we get too cold, and rhinovirus – the predominant cause of the common cold – actually increases its replication at low temperatures. To help protect against winter germs, always wrap up warm and keep your home heated to at least 18°C. Having regular hot drinks, using a hot water bottle or electric blanket can also help to keep you nice and toasty, and germ-free.