What is Personal Hygiene?
The most effective ways we have to safeguard ourselves and others from illness is good personal hygiene. Personal hygiene is maintaining personal cleanliness by washing your hands, especially, but also your body. It also means being careful not to cough or sneeze on others, cleaning out things that you touch if you are unwell, putting items such as tissues (that may have germs) into a bin and using protective items (like gloves or condoms) when you might be at risk of catching an infection.
What should we pay attention to?
Body odor or bad smells are caused by a number of factors such as,
• Chemicals present in sweat, including pheromones, which are made by the body and sexually attract (or repel) other people.
• Wastes which are excreted through the skin, such as metabolized alcohol.
• The harmful actions of bacteria that live on the skin and that feed on dead skin cells and sweat.
• Unwashed clothes, such as socks, hanker-chiefs and underwear.
Most infections, especially colds and gastroenteritis, are caught when we bring our unwashed hands, which have germs on them, close to our mouth and nose. Some infections are caught when other people’s dirty or uncleansed hands touch the food we eat. Hands and wrists should be washed with clean soap and water, also by using a brush if your fingernails are dirty. Dry your hands with clean towels, paper towels or hot air dryers. You should always wash your hands:
• After using the toilet
• Before making or eating food
• After handling dogs or other animals
• If you have associated someone who is coughing or has a cold.
Good dental hygiene includes regular brushing or else bad breath can be caused by diseases of the teeth, gums, and mouth which leads to infections. Bad breath is present in the morning because saliva is not made while you’re asleep. There are certain foods that can cause bad breath including garlic and onion. You can use mouthwashes, mouth sprays, and flavored chewing gums to make your breath smell better for a while, but if you have a health problem in your mouth, you need to see your dentist.
Personal hygiene for women
Women’s vagina is able to clean itself and no special care is needed but washing the external genitals is very important.
Here are some personal hygiene suggestions for women:
• Menstruation – wash your body including your genital area, in the same way, you do regularly.
Change tampons or sanitary napkins regularly when they need to be changed, at least four to five times a day. Always wash your hands before and after handling a tampon or pad and keep the area clean.
• Cystitis – is an infection formed in the bladder. It is a common condition for sexually active young women. Urinating after sexual intercourse helps to flush out any bacteria that may be in the urethra and bladder.
• Thrush – some soaps and detergents may irritate the skin of the vagina and make thrush infections to occur. Some people find that they often get thrush when they use medicines or antibiotics. Use mild soap and unperfumed toilet paper. Avoid tight, synthetic underwear. Use cotton underwear and change regularly.
When traveling overseas, it is very important to take special care especially if you’re not sure whether the water is safe. Suggestions include:
• Drink only bottled water.
• Do not clean your teeth using tap water.
• When you wash your hands, make sure they are totally clean and dry before you touch any food.
• Don’t wash fruit or vegetables with unsafe water.
• If you have no other water source, make sure that the water you consume is boiled.
• Make sure any dishes, cups or other utensils are totally clean and dry after they are washed.
Why is Personal Hygiene important?
Maintaining personal hygiene is important for many reasons which include personal, social, health, psychological, or simply as a way of life. Keeping a high level of good hygiene helps you to prevent the development and spread of infections, illnesses, and bad odors.
Many people are very conscious of personal hygiene because it is considered a way of making ourselves more attractive to the opposite sex and as most of them are aware of the health problems that may occur because of poor personal hygiene.
Our body image influences our self-esteem, confidence, and motivation. Those who already have low self-esteem and especially those with depression often neglect personal hygiene which leads to the problem of poor body image.
Nowadays many modern media including magazines, fashion, TV, film, and the internet present a certain body image as being “acceptable” or “expected” where young children and teenagers are especially influenced by this. These encourage to follow basic personal hygiene principles. These good hygiene practices will help to keep you healthy, give you confidence, and to be pleasant for those around you.
Children should be taught of the importance of hygiene and how to practice good hygiene very early to keep themselves and others healthy and to minimize the risk of being bullied at school.
When you are clean and tidy, you feel more confident, especially in social situations. The chances of succeeding either in work or social settings or even with the opposite sex may be altered by the maintenance of good hygiene.
Maintaining hygiene practices helps to reduce the risks of ill health and can influence our levels of confidence and self-esteem which can affect many aspects of our lives.
Which Bits to Focus On and How?
Think about each area individually so that you have an idea of where to start. Hair and teeth are good places too along with those areas of the body that might smell or which are more prone to fungal/bacterial infections.