Practicing good hygiene has a wealth of benefits, including reducing your chances for illnesses, diseases, and infections. Plus, there is absolutely no risk for practicing good hygiene! The importance of hygiene can be a difficult topic to discuss, but it doesn’t have to be. Caring about your wellbeing should be one of the most important practices for a long, happy, and healthy life. We care about your wellbeing, so we are going to discuss some of the things you can do to maintain good hygiene and cleanliness.
How Good Hygiene Affects You
Practicing good hygiene is beneficial to your overall physical and mental health and more than just being clean. Keeping your entire body clean from head to toe not only helps prevent illnesses and infections from harmful bacteria, but it can give your self-esteem a boost. We tend to feel better when we take care of ourselves. There are many personal hygiene habits to incorporate into your everyday routine to make sure you keep yourself and the environment around you hygienic.
Types of Personal Hygiene
Washing your hands is one of the easiest habits to practice to prevent the spread of germs to your eyes, mouth, food, as well as to those around you. Any time you handle food, garbage, pet an animal, sneeze, or use the restroom, you should wash your hands. Follow the 5-step rule for washing hands:
- Wet – Get your hands wet with clean water.
- Lather – Apply soap to your hands and work up a lather.
- Scrub – For at least 20 seconds, scrub your hands.
- Rinse – With clean water, rinse your hands free of the soap lather.
- Dry – Use either a towel or air dry your hands.
If you do not have a water source, you can also choose to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
By brushing and flossing your teeth, you are helping to prevent gum disease, cavities, and bad breath. You should practice brushing your teeth twice a day; once in the morning and once at night. Adding an antimicrobial mouthwash to your routine can also help reduce the number of bacteria in the mouth and prevent tooth decay. It is suggested to replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months and visit a dentist for routine cleanings every 6 months.
Here is a handy infographic about brushing your teeth: Brushing-Your-Teeth
Keeping your nails clean helps prevent the spread of germs into your mouth and other areas of the body. Trimming your nails regularly to make sure there aren’t any sharp edges or hangnails and using a nail file to smooth them keeps fingernails looking nice. Using a soft nail brush or washcloth can also help remove and rinse any dirt or buildup underneath the nail. Refraining from biting your nails and picking at the cuticles is necessary for good nail hygiene. If you use nail polish remover, try opting for an acetone-free formula.
Taking a shower or bath is essential to wash away dead skin cells, bacteria, and oils. The skin is the largest organ of the body and contains 2 layers. The thin outer layer is made up of dead skin cells that are constantly shed and replaced by new cells. The thick inner layer is made up of blood vessels, nerves, and hair follicles that contain glands. These glands produce an oily substance called sebum, which helps the skin and hair from drying out. Washing your body and hair daily removes dirt, oil, and those dead skin cells before they can accumulate. Make sure to pay attention to your armpits, groin, ears, elbows, back, and feet. All-in-one no-rinse alternatives such as the DermaRite 4-N-1 No-Rinse Wash are also handy for frequent cleansing.
Fungal organisms love moisture, so keeping feet clean and dry will help prevent them from thriving. Our feet have sweat glands, too! Wear socks to trapping away moisture and make sure that your shoes fit properly. Trimming your toenails and using a nail file to smooth the edges helps to avoid ingrown toenails and allows you to check them for any infections, sores, or discoloration of the nails. Examining your feet is an important part of personal hygiene, especially if you have diabetes since it increases the risk of foot sores and infections.
In order to prevent food-borne illness, certain food safety practices are used when handling, preparing, and storing food. Spoiled or rotten food can smell, however not all harmful bacteria have a scent. Making sure to clean your hands before handling food, cooking food to the proper temperature, and storing food promptly are ways to practice good food hygiene. When using a cutting board, make sure to sanitize it after every use. Wooden and plastic cutting boards are porous and bacteria can lurk behind in grooves made by a knife. Keeping hair up and out of the face prevents it from landing in food and wearing an apron protects your clothing from coming in contact with the food.
Dirty clothes, especially socks and underwear, can harbor microorganisms that can lead to skin infections. Not washing your clothing can have an impact on your overall health. Body odor can arise from stains on clothing that bacteria accumulate on. Fungi and bacteria thrive in warm, moist, and dark environments, causing bad smells and other conditions such as athlete’s foot. Not only should you wash your clothes, but you also need to remember to wash your bathroom and kitchen towels regularly as well. To avoid cross-contamination, try not to share towels and clothing.
Side Effects of Poor Hygiene
Poor personal hygiene can have minor side effects, but can also lead to more serious ones. Here are just a few of the side effects from poor personal hygiene.
- You can transfer germs and other harmful bacteria to your eyes and mouth by not washing your hands. Issues such as pink eye and stomach viruses happen as a result of not routinely washing your hands.
- Not brushing your teeth regularly can lead to plaque buildup causing cavities, gum disease, and other teeth issues, not to mention bad breath. Some research has also shown a link between gum disease and heart disease.
- You can get Athlete’s Foot if you often walk around barefoot, especially in public areas where infection can spread such as swimming pools, shower areas, and locker rooms. This is a contagious fungal infection that thrives in moist environments and can spread to the toenails and hands.
- Body odor and greasy hair are also side effects of poor personal hygiene. Maintaining a good cleansing routine will help keep you looking and feeling fresh, giving you a sense of pride in your appearance. Those around you will appreciate it, too.
- Bacteria breeds in unclean environments such as the kitchen and dining areas, therefore leading to contamination of food. It is imperative to wash your hands prior to preparing food to keep bacteria from entering our bodies. Make sure to clean up and properly store leftovers, taking note of expiration dates. You could end up with diarrhea or even food poisoning if food is not correctly handled.
Choosing the Right Personal Hygiene Products
Depending on the situation, there are many different kinds of personal hygiene products available for a variety of needs. Almost all toiletries and cleaning supplies come in multiple sizes and formulas. There are specific personal hygiene products on the market for those with limited mobility, are traveling, or do not have access to a water supply.
Rinse-free Body Washes
All-in-one body washes such as the ConvaTec Aloe Vesta Shampoo and Body Wash gently and effectively cleanses, conditions, and deodorizes when there is no accessible water source. These formulas serve the need of bed ridden patients and the elderly where rinsing is difficult. Most can be used anywhere on the body, including perineal areas since they are non-irritating and alcohol-free. This type of product is great for traveling and camping as well.
Personal Cleansing Wipes
Personal cleansing wipes are great for the entire body. Since they come in convenient tubs or pouches, they are easy to transport on-the-go. You can quickly and conveniently use these personal wipes to cleanse your hands, as a facial wipe, to disinfect a surface, or even as a substitute for toilet paper. Look for wipes that are pH-balanced, alcohol-free, fragrance-free, and contain aloe to soothe the skin such as the ConvaTec Aloe Vesta Bathing Cloths. These wipes are large, easy-to-use, rinse-free, and disposable, making them a great choice for everyday use as well as for travel.
Hand sanitizers act quickly to kill 99% of microorganisms on the hands and can be less irritating than soap and water. They are effective against both bacteria and viruses and come in a variety of sizes suitable for travel and larger group settings. Some even contain Vitamin E and Aloe to moisturize as they disinfect such as McKesson’s Premium Hand Sanitizer. In order for hand sanitizers to work effectively, make sure to choose one that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Bed Pads and Underpads
Protecting your mattress, chair, car seat, and couch with a hygiene product like a bed pad or underpad can help trap leaks during the day and night if you suffer from incontinence. There are reusable protective bed pads such as the Birdseye Reusable Soaker Underpad and there are also disposable bed pads such as the Covidien Simplicity Basic Underpad. Reusable bad pads are typically more expensive and made of a washable material, but you may save more money long-term. On the other hand, disposable bed pads are meant for single-use, which means you will use more of them. Choosing a bed pad or underpad that has a waterproof outer edge and flaps to tuck in for security can help you feel comfortable and protected day or night. Did you know that you can also use bed pads and underpads for potty training pets?
Caring for yourself is good for both your physical health and your mental health. Maintaining a hygienic lifestyle is important to prevent and control illnesses. Getting into a good personal hygiene routine may be difficult for some and might take some patience and practice, but it is worth every effort. You should speak to your doctor if you are having a hard time adapting to good personal hygiene habits.
For any questions about the personal hygiene products we carry or need guidance on how to use them, our Personally Delivered Product Experts are just a phone call away and happy to help.