We’ve all been told ever since we were little that personal hygiene is crucial for staying healthy. But what does it mean to have good personal hygiene?
Personal hygiene is a set of practices that help you keep your body clean – washing your hands, brushing your teeth, showering or bathing, and wearing clean clothing. Personal hygiene also includes the way you interact with your surroundings and the things you do to protect yourself from possible infections from germs.
We come into contact with millions of germs every day, and in some cases, they can make us sick. For example, we were taught to wash our hands before eating because these germs can accumulate on our hands, and when we eat, we transfer them to our mouths.
Personal hygiene is a simple and effective way to protect both our own health and the health of the people around us. It also has psychological benefits since it improves your appearance, which in turn boosts your level of confidence.
Hand Hygiene Practices
When you touch surfaces or objects, or you shake hands with other people, you come into contact with germs that accumulate on your hands. You can also spread these germs to other people or surfaces and to yourself if you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Although you can’t keep your hands entirely germ-free, there are some basic personal hygiene practices that can prevent infection.
These practices include washing your hands before:
• Handling food – both eating and preparing
• Treating wounds or taking care of someone who is ill
• Putting in or taking out contact lenses
And washing your hands after:
• Going to the bathroom
• Helping a child use the bathroom
• Changing diapers
• Touching an animal as well as animal feed, pet food, and pet treats
• Handling garbage
• Treating wounds or taking care of someone who is ill
• Preparing food
• Coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
To clean your hands, you just need regular soap and water. Antibacterial soap has not been shown to have added benefits. You should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. It’s better to take your time so you can make sure you’ve reached all surfaces, including between your fingers, the backs of your hands, and your wrists.
It’s also a good idea to carry a hand sanitizer like organic lavender hand sanitizer spray for situations when you don’t have access to soap and water. Always check the label to make sure that the product has at least 60% alcohol. The quantity you need to use and the instructions will be mentioned on the label.
Germs can also get under your fingernails and spread infection, so it’s important to keep them trimmed and clean. Long fingernails, because of their length, tend to harbor more germs, which increases the risk of infection. Swelling and pain in the area around the nail are signs of an infection.
Before you groom your nails, it’s recommended that you clean any tools you use. This is especially important in nail salons where the same tools are used on many customers. If you get manicures at a nail salon, make sure that the tools have been sterilized. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends skipping the cuticle trimming commonly offered in nail salons because cuticles protect your nail roots from infection.
And of course, we have to mention nail-biting. If you tend to bite your nails when you’re feeling bored or anxious, there are some strategies you can use to break the habit. Biting your nails is bad for your health because you’re spreading germs to your mouth and because it can damage the skin around your nails, which can lead to infection.
Oral Hygiene Practices
You can’t have healthy teeth and a beautiful smile without good oral hygiene. It’s that simple.
Why? You will not like the sound of this, but there are large communities of bacteria living inside your mouth, and they feed on the sugars from the foods and drinks you consume. The plaque you keep hearing about in toothpaste commercials or from your dentist is actually the biofilm of bacteria that forms on the surface of your teeth.
The bacteria inside the biofilm secrete acids that irritate the gums and erode the enamel that covers your teeth and protects them. These acids can cause gum disease, cavities, and tooth loss. We brush our teeth to remove this plaque before it gets a chance to damage our teeth.
For best results, you should brush your teeth after every meal, but twice a day can also suffice. Bear in mind that the most important time to brush your teeth is before going to sleep. Most people tend to skip brushing their teeth in the evening if they’re really tired, but we produce less saliva during sleep which makes it easier for the bacteria to multiply.
As with washing your hands, you should take your time so you can reach all surfaces. The whole process should take about three minutes. Apply a pea-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste on a toothbrush with soft bristles and place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against your gum line.
The fluoride inside the toothbrush helps protect your teeth against cavities, soft bristles clean more effectively and are less likely to hurt your gums, and the 45-degree angle makes it easier for them to get in between your teeth. Also, when you’re brushing your teeth, don’t press too hard. The plaque has a very soft consistency, and it’s easy to remove. Scrubbing won’t make your teeth cleaner. It will just hurt your gums.
No matter what technique you use to brush your teeth, you will still need to floss because you won’t be able to reach the plaque in between your teeth. This means that you will need to floss. Flossing is just as important as brushing your teeth. Do it at least once per day, before bedtime.
To avoid hurting your gums, when you’re sliding the floss in between your teeth, use a rubbing motion instead of pushing it down. Once it reaches the gum line, curve it against the side of one of the teeth and slide it back and forth until it’s back down.