What is personal hygiene?
It may seem like no big deal to skip brushing your teeth once in a while. But once it forms a habit, it can cause irreversible dental problems. Bad breath is only one of the many consequences of poor dental hygiene. One may develop cavities if one doesn't take care of their teeth. If the cavities are not treated in time, they can become infected. The infection can spread to other parts of the body and can become lethal.
In some cases, plaque and tartar can build up on teeth. This can cause gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums that can progress to periodontal disease if left untreated. Periodontal disease is a serious condition that damages the tissue and bone supporting the teeth. These problems can become quite severe without proper care and may lead to more serious health issues.
Does it sound scary? That's because it is!
Maintaining good health is directly proportional to practicing good personal hygiene. It includes everything -- from regularly washing your hands and taking a shower, to brushing your teeth and flossing. Personal hygiene also encompasses how you care for your hair, nails, and skin.
Personal hygiene, in its simplest form, is keeping oneself clean and free from germs, dirt, and other contaminants. It is important to maintain good personal hygiene for health and social reasons.
Poor personal hygiene can lead to illness, disease, and awkward social situations. Good personal hygiene habits should be developed early and practiced throughout life. Skin diseases, diarrhoeal diseases, dental diseases, and worm infestations are only some of the commonly associated outcomes of poor personal hygiene.
There are many ways by which personal hygiene can be compromised. A poor diet, unclean living conditions, and inadequate access to clean water and soap are all contributing factors. Simple measures like failing to wash one's hands after sneezing or using the toilet are signs of poor personal hygiene. People are more likely to fall ill and spread diseases when they are not properly educated about good hygiene practices.
Why is Personal Hygiene Important?
Let's begin with an example. A norovirus outbreak occurred at an Illinois eatery, forcing it to close in the first week of November 2022. Investigations identified 173 people who had contracted the disease. A cluster of illnesses was reported in the area between August and September 2022, all linked to D.C. Cobb's restaurant. The McHenry County Department of Health started investigating the matter.
The Division of Environmental Health pinned down multiple lapses in the restaurant's operational practices that helped the norovirus thrive and spread on the premises. The arc was predictable. The virus traveled from food handlers to restaurant surfaces, then to food items and guests, resulting in the spread of the illness. Besides several concerns with environmental hygiene, the department concluded that the food handlers did not practice basic personal hygiene measures, like hand-washing.
The importance of personal hygiene can't be stated enough, particularly for food handlers and health care professionals. Practicing good hygiene is vital for the safety of the people they serve. If one compromises on personal hygiene, they may be at risk of developing infections and illnesses.
Poor personal hygiene or lack of personal hygiene causes bad body odor, a major embarrassment. If left unchecked, it can also lead to the growth of bacteria and fungi, which can cause skin infections. It also leads to social problems and difficulties in school or at work. One may experience shame, guilt, or embarrassment, or worse, social ostracism.
Why is personal hygiene important for the body?
Personal hygiene keep the body clean and free from bacteria and other harmful organisms
Types of Personal Hygiene
Most people know the basic practices of personal hygiene- showering regularly, brushing their teeth, and wearing clean clothes. But there's more to staying clean than just following these basic steps. Here are a few tips for keeping yourself clean and fresh all day.
- Hand hygiene- This is one of the most effective habits to prevent the spread of disease. Wash your hands with soap and water after using the restroom, handling food, or contacting any potentially contaminated surface.
- Dental hygiene- Brushing and flossing your teeth regularly helps to remove plaque and bacteria from your mouth, which can lead to cavities, gum disease, and bad breath. Be sure to brush at least twice a day and floss once daily.
- Bathing- Keeping your body clean helps prevent infection and keeps you feeling fresh and comfortable. Aim to shower or bathe at least once a day, using soap and water.
- Hair care- In addition to regular shampooing, you should trim your hair regularly (about once every 2-3 months) to prevent split-ends and keep it looking its best. If you have long hair, tie it back when necessary so that it doesn't get in your way or become dirty.
- Nail care- Regularly trimming your fingernails and keeping them clean helps to prevent bacterial buildup under the nails. It is also important to avoid biting your nails or picking at cuticles, as this can damage the nail beds and lead to other problems.
- Vaginal health- Maintaining good vaginal and anal hygiene by cleansing with water and mild soap daily and regularly changing tampons, pads, or liners.
- Clothing- Wear clean clothes that are washed frequently (at least once a week), and change your underwear at least once a day, particularly if you're sweat-prone or during menstruation.
- Cleaning house/workspace- Doing this regularly will help prevent build-up of dirt, dust, grease, etc.
How to Maintain Good Personal Hygiene
Maintaining good personal hygiene is an endless task. We are constantly exposed to bacterial and other microorganisms that can cause illness. Even with regular hand washing, keeping our hands completely free of germs is impossible. Our bodies are constantly shedding skin cells, hair, and other particles that can harbor bacteria if not cleaned properly. In fact, it is estimated that the average person sheds around 1.5 million skin cells every day!
Sweat and other secretions can also promote the growth of bacteria if not properly cleaned. Often, clothing and bedding can collect dirt, sweat, and other bodily fluids that can lead to skin infections if not laundered frequently. It means that there is a lot of potential for bacteria and other germs to spread, so it's important to be on top of your hygiene.
Good personal hygiene requires constant vigilance and a commitment to cleanliness. There are many ways to do this. The best way is to find a routine that works for you and stick to it. Having a personal hygiene checklist also helps.
- Brushing teeth at least twice a day.
- Flossing daily to remove plaque from your teeth and gums.
- Rinsing the mouth with mouthwash or water after brushing and flossing.
- Eating healthy foods and avoiding sugary snacks that can cause cavities.
- Practicing safe food handling to avoid foodborne illnesses.
- Washing hands frequently throughout the day, especially before eating or preparing food, after using the toilet, and after coming into contact with someone sick.
- Washing your face daily with a mild facial cleanser removes oil, sweat, and dirt.
- Showering or bathing every day or two to cleanse skin and hair of sweat, bacteria, and oils.
- Wearing clean clothes daily, and change out of sweaty or dirty clothes as soon as possible.
- Practicing safe sex by using condoms helps prevent STDs.
- Keeping nails trimmed and clean.
- Wearing socks made of natural fibers (like cotton), drying your feet thoroughly after bathing, and wearing shoes that allow air circulation around the feet.
- Trimming nose and ear hair regularly; shaving facial hair (if appropriate).
Teaching Personal Hygiene to Children
If you have kids or have dealt with them, you know that teaching them behavioral skills, including good personal hygiene, can be tricky. Kids are curious and playful and often don't understand why it's important to practice certain things in daily life.
They are also often resistant to change, so getting them to adopt new habits like good personal hygiene can be difficult. In addition, they may not have developed the coordination or motor skills necessary to wash their hands or brush their teeth properly. Kids may also resist frequently washing their hands or taking baths or showers because they don't like doing it or because it's uncomfortable.
As kids age and start experimenting with different activities and interests, they may start to care less about personal hygiene. These factors make teaching good personal hygiene to kids somewhat challenging.
However, to teach the basics of hygiene to children, here are a few things to do-
- Try to make it fun. Use games, songs, and other creative approaches to get your kids excited about practicing good hygiene.
- Be consistent in your education. If you want your kids to brush their teeth twice a day, make sure they do so every day.
- Lead by example. If you practice good hygiene yourself, then your kids will be more likely to follow suit.
It can be painful to keep up with personal hygiene, especially if you have a busy lifestyle
There are many different ways to maintain personal hygiene, so find one that works best for you and stick with it
Negative Effects of Poor Personal Hygiene
As mentioned earlier, poor personal hygiene can lead to several health problems, both for the individual and those around them. Some of the ways poor personal hygiene can impact you include-
- Skin infections- These can range from minor conditions like athlete's foot to more serious infections like impetigo.
- Bad breath- Poor oral hygiene is one of the main causes of bad breath.
- Weight gain- Believe it or not, poor personal hygiene can lead to weight gain. If you don't shower regularly, the sweat and bacteria on your skin will mix, creating an ideal environment for yeast to grow. This yeast feeds off of sweat and causes inflammation, which can lead to weight gain.
- Depression- Now, this isn't a result of poor personal hygiene. Rather, the lack of personal hygiene or the inability to take care of yourself can be an underlying symptom of depression. Individuals who are depressed often lack the motivation to take care of themselves properly. It's important to seek professional help if you think you may be suffering from depression.
- Increased stress levels- When you don't practice good personal hygiene, it can lead to increased stress levels. This is because the body releases stress hormones in response to patterns of neglect, such as not showering often enough.
In the last few years, we have seen hundreds of videos on the importance of washing hands for 20 seconds. It was touted as one of the primary ways to avoid the coronavirus infection. Indeed, poor personal hygiene opens the door to sickness and disease. The flu virus, for example, can live on surfaces for up 48 hours which means that if someone sick doesn't wash their hands or pay attention to good hygiene after using the restroom, they could leave behind the virus and infect others. Poor personal hygiene can also impact your social life. If you don't take care of yourself, people may not want to be around you because of your odor or appearance.
There are a host of reasons to develop good personal hygiene practices. So why not start implementing some of the basics now? Pick up that personal hygiene kit -- the hand sanitizer, wet wipes, tissues, face wash, and mouth wash -- and make sure to follow the measures mentioned above.
What is the fallout of poor personal hygiene?
In people with poor personal hygiene, the body provides an ideal environment for germs to grow, leaving it vulnerable to infection