Your mom was right. Good personal hygiene is essential for your health. But what is personal hygiene?
Personal hygiene can be defined as a set of practices aimed at maintaining the cleanliness of one’s body. These practices include washing your hands, brushing your teeth, bathing, and wearing clean clothes. Personal hygiene also refers to making healthy and safe decisions when interacting with your surroundings and other people.
Every day, you come into contact with millions of germs. They can accumulate on your body and can make you sick. For instance, if you don’t wash your hands properly and often enough, you can transfer these germs from your hands to your eyes and mouth, leading to pink eye and stomach viruses.
One of the best and easiest ways to protect your health and the health of others is through good personal hygiene.
And it has mental health benefits as well! When you look and smell your best, you feel good about your appearance, and this gives you a confidence boost.
As you go about your day, you will inevitably come into contact with objects, surfaces, and other people. This makes you accumulate germs on your hands that you can spread to others or yourself by touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. It’s impossible to keep your hands completely germ-free, but with proper hand hygiene, you can reduce the risk of infection.
It’s especially important to wash your hands before:
• Preparing food or eating
• Treating wounds
• Handling contact lenses
• Caring for someone who’s sick
And you should always wash your hands after:
• Using the toilet or helping a child use a toilet
• Changing a diaper
• Touching an animal
• Touching animal feed, pet food, or pet treats
• Handling garbage
• Treating wounds
• Caring for someone who’s sick
• Coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose
• Preparing food
The best way to clean your hands is to wash them with regular soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Make sure you reach all surfaces, including between your fingers, the backs of your hands, and your wrists.
If you don’t have access to soap and water, it’s also possible to clean your hands with a hand sanitizer like an organic lavender hand sanitizer spray. Just make sure that it contains at least 60% alcohol. You can check the label to see how much product you need to apply and how to use it.
Proper hand hygiene also includes cleaning and trimming your nails since they can harbor germs and spread infections like pinworm infections. It’s better to keep your fingernails short since long fingernails can harbor more germs.
Symptoms of fingernail or toenail infections include swelling and pain in the surrounding area and thickening of the nail.
You should clean all the equipment you use to groom your nails before every use. If you get manicures or pedicures from a nail salon, make sure the equipment has been sterilized. It’s best not to cut your cuticles because they protect the nail roots from infection.
Lastly, you should avoid biting your nails since this can damage the skin in the surrounding area, which increases the risk of infection. Furthermore, biting your nails means you’re spreading germs from your hands to your mouth.
Do you want healthy teeth and a beautiful smile? Then you need to practice good oral hygiene. This may not be exactly what you want to hear, but your mouth harbors large communities of bacteria that feed on the sugars derived from various foods and drinks you consume. The bacteria form a biofilm called plaque on the surface of your teeth and release acids that can irritate your gum and eat away at the enamel that protects your teeth.
The goal behind brushing your teeth is to remove this plaque and avoid gum disease, cavities, and tooth loss.
Ideally, you should brush your teeth after every meal, within 30 to 60 minutes. But if that’s not possible, twice a day can be enough as long as you avoid sugary or starchy food. The most important time to do it is before bed. Although it may be tempting to skip brushing your teeth when you’re tired, and all you want to do is sleep, you produce less saliva during the night, making it easier for bacteria to multiply.
Brushing your teeth should take about three minutes. Don’t rush the process. The duration is just as important as frequency. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and toothpaste with fluoride. You only need a pea-sized dab.
Your toothbrush should be at a 45-degree angle against your gum line because this will make it easier to reach between your teeth. Use circular motions, and don’t press too hard. It won’t make brushing your teeth more effective. It will only hurt your gums.
Lastly, remember that flossing is just as important as brushing your teeth. No matter how masterful your brushing technique might be, you won’t be able to reach the tight spaces between your teeth which is why you need to floss at least once per day, preferably before bedtime.
Whether you choose to take baths or showers is a matter of personal preference. Showers tend to be cleaner than baths since all the water you use to clean yourself of dirt, sweat and oils runs down the drain. Having said that, many people consider baths to be much more relaxing.
You should take a bath or a shower at least once every other day and after activities that make you sweat. If you leave the sweat on your body, it can lead to skin conditions like rashes and body acne. Bear in mind that water is not enough to clean the skin effectively, so you should use soap, shower gel, or body wash.
As for your hair, there is no blanket recommendation in terms of frequency. Most people wash their hair at least twice a week, but it depends on the texture of your hair and how oily your scalp is. If you have fine hair and it tends to get oily rather quickly, you may need to wash it more often.
As a general rule, if your scalp is itching, there’s flaking, and your hair feels greasy, it may be time to wash your hair.