BE CLEAN BE HEALTHY
One of the most effective ways we have to protect ourselves and others from illness is good personal hygiene. This means washing your hands, especially, but also your body. It means being careful not to cough or sneeze on others, cleaning things that you touch if you are unwell, putting items such as tissues (that may have germs) into a bin, and using protection (like gloves or condoms) when you might be at risk of catching an infection.
Personal hygiene, such as bathing, is very much dependent on the culture in which you live. In some cultures, it is expected that you will wash your body at least every day and use deodorants to stop body smells. Other cultures have different expectations. Good personal hygiene is important for both health and social reasons. Your personal hygiene benefits your own health and impacts the lives of those around you, too.
The social benefits associated with personal habits must also be considered. Since it involves washing your body every day and caring for yourself, it reduces the chances of body odour and thus, any chances of embarrassment at work or at school.
Why is personal hygiene important?
Reason 1: Good hygiene saves lives.
Inadequate sanitation and hygiene are responsible for a huge number of preventable deaths – in fact it’s believed that adequate hygiene could save around 8 million lives around the world. Good hygiene practices can reduce the risk of contracting gastrointestinal and respiratory infections, including influenza and salmonella.
Reason 2: Effective hand hygiene can reduce sick days and lost productivity.
Good hand hygiene also has a significant benefit towards business productivity. One German study found that using hand sanitiser significantly cut down the number of sick days that employee took off from work because of colds, coughs, fevers or diarrhoea. That means having hand sanitiser dispensers and a personal hygiene checklist in your workplace is a very good idea.
Reason 3: Hand hygiene could be crucial in the fight against antibiotic resistance.
The World Health Organization has stressed the role of hand hygiene in managing antibiotic resistance and the development of ‘super bugs. It’s believed that at any given time, 7-10% of patients undergoing treatment will acquire at least one health care-associated infection. If medical and care staff can perform best practice hand hygiene then they can drastically cut these infections and the resulting dependence on antibiotics.
Reason 4: Great personal hygiene makes you a great role model.
With all of these reasons to keep your hands as clean as possible, it’s important that we pass on effective hygiene practices to the next generation. Be sure to teach kids in your life the value of washing their hands regularly and after going to the bathroom. We have some fun classroom activities that can help with this.
Reason 5: Personal hygiene makes you more attractive to other people.
It’s no secret that good hygiene will help our social standing. After all, meeting someone with clean clothes and scrubbed fingernails will be much more pleasant that meeting someone with grubby hands and clothes.
Research has indicated that clean and bright teeth make you more attractive to the opposite sex, and we’re guessing the same goes for general hygiene too.
What can I do to keep myself clean on a daily basis?
Bathe regularly. Wash your body and your hair often. You should clean your body and shampoo your hair at regular intervals that work for you.
“This is because your body is constantly shedding skin and that skin needs to come off. Otherwise, it will cake up and can cause illnesses.
Trim your nails. Keeping your finger and toenails trimmed and in good shape will prevent problems such as hang nails and infected nail beds.
Feet that are clean and dry are less likely to contract athlete’s foot, Novey says.
Brush and floss. Ideally, you should brush your teeth after every meal. At the very least, brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily. Brushing minimizes the accumulation of bacteria in your mouth, which can cause tooth decay and gum disease as well. Flossing also helps maintain strong, healthy gums. The bacteria that build up and causes gum disease can go straight to the heart and cause very serious valve problems. Unhealthy gums also can cause your teeth to loosen, which makes it difficult to chew and to eat properly, he adds. To maintain a healthy smile, visit the dentist at six-month intervals for check-ups and cleanings.
Wash your hands. Washing your hands before preparing or eating food, after going to the bathroom, after coughing or sneezing, and after handling garbage, goes a long way toward preventing the spread of bacteria and viruses. Keep a hygiene product, like an alcohol-based sanitizing gel, handy for when soap and water isn’t available.
Sleep tight. Get plenty of rest — 8 to 10 hours a night — so that you are refreshed and are ready to take on the day every morning. Lack of sleep can leave you feeling run down and can compromise your body's natural defences, your immune system, Novey says.
What are the consequences of improper hygiene conduct?
This is probably the most common evidence of poor personal hygiene. Not only does it lead to discomfort and an embarrassing situation for those around you, but there are also other consequences. You could develop allergies, constant itching, and the result of being socially isolated due to your condition.
When your sweat and the bacteria produced from your apocrine glands interact, it produces body odor. So, the more there’s unwashed sweat, the bacteria increase, and the odor gets even worse. But it all starts with poor personal hygiene and bad behaviours like:
- Infrequent showering.
- Wearing dirty, smelly socks
- Not airing your shoes
- Not taking the time to wash your feet
- Wearing smelly, stained, or dirty clothes each day
- Not changing your underwear regularly
Bad breath (or halitosis) is another of the effects of poor hygiene that impacts your oral health. When you eat, the bacteria that are present on the food particles get stuck on your teeth. Unfortunately, as these bacteria digest, they produce a strong unpleasant odor that is associated with halitosis.
Poor oral hygiene leads to other problems like tooth decay and bleeding gums. The behaviours that lead to these oral diseases include:
- Irregular brushing of your teeth
- Not flossing every time, you brush your teeth
- Neglecting to clean your tongue when brushing your teeth
- Drinking too many acidic drinks too often
- Excessive smoking
Did you know that having the flu can be one of the effects of poor hygiene? You must know how to prevent contamination from any pathogens. You also need to know how to stop the spreading of your germs to other people. Some examples of poor hygiene behaviours in this instance include:
- Not wearing a face mask when you don’t feel well
- Not covering your sneezes and coughs with a cloth or your elbow
- Still going to social gatherings even when you’re ill
- Infrequent hand washing
Body lice infestation is quite uncomfortable and hazardous to your health. These lice are small insects that live and lay eggs in clothing and bedding. They also feed on the residues found on your skin.
Lice tend to colonize in your armpits and groin, as these are the areas with a lot of humidity. So, it’s important to take regular baths, and wear clean, fresh clothes each day to avoid any lice infestation.
Avoid doing the following to stave off any such infestation:
- Infrequent showering
- Not changing your bedding at least every week
- Not washing your clothes very well
- Wearing dirty and/or smelly clothes