Practicing good hygiene has many benefits, including reducing your chances of illnesses, diseases, and infections. Plus, there is absolutely no risk in practicing good hygiene! The importance of hygiene can be difficult to discuss, but it doesn’t have to be. Caring about your well-being should be one of the most important practices for a long, happy, healthy life. We care about your well-being, so we will discuss some of the things you can do to maintain good body hygiene and cleanliness.
How Good Hygiene Affects You
Practicing good hygiene benefits your overall physical and mental health and is 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 ensure 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, and 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.
Keeping your nails clean helps prevent the spread of germs into your mouth and other areas of the body. Trimming your nails regularly to ensure there aren’t any sharp edges or hangnails and using a nail file to smooth them keeps fingernails looking nice. 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.
By brushing and flossing your teeth, you are helping to prevent gum disease, cavities, and bad breath. You should practice brushing your teeth twice daily, 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
A shower or bath is essential to wash away dead skin cells, bacteria, and oils and is essential when practicing good body hygiene. The skin is the largest organ of the body and contains 2 layers. The thin outer layer is comprised 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 containing glands. These glands produce an oily substance called sebum, which helps the skin and hair from drying out. Daily washing of your body and hair removes dirt, oil, and dead skin cells before they can accumulate. 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. Good body hygiene can help make you look and feel your best.
Maintaining the perineal area with a Peri-Wash is also essential to good hygiene. Not only is Peri-Wash excellent for improved hygiene, but it also reduces the risk of infection, promotes healing, improves comfort, and enhances self-care.
Fungal organisms love moisture, so keeping your feet clean and dry will help prevent them from thriving. Our feet have sweat glands, too! Wear socks to trap 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.
Certain food safety practices are used when handling, prepping, or storing food to prevent food-borne illness. 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, 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.
Wearing gloves is an excellent choice when preparing food to help avoid cross-contamination. Gloves are often used in the food industry to prevent harmful foodborne illnesses. It is critical to note that before putting on gloves, you must wash your hands. Otherwise, the gloves could be contaminated with dangerous pathogens.
Here is a helpful infographic displaying the proper steps for wearing gloves for food safety.
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 must remember to wash your bathroom and kitchen towels regularly. 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 of poor personal hygiene.
- Not washing your hands can transfer germs and other harmful bacteria to your eyes and mouth. Issues such as pink eye and stomach viruses result from 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 contagious fungal infection thrives in moist environments and can spread to the toenails and hands.
- Body odor and greasy hair are also side effects of poor personal body 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 your good body hygiene, too.
- Bacteria breeds in unclean environments such as the kitchen and dining areas, leading to food contamination. It is imperative to wash your hands before 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 food poisoning if food is not correctly handled.
Choosing the Right Personal Hygiene Products
Depending on the situation, many different kinds of personal hygiene products are available for various needs. Almost all toiletries and cleaning supplies come in multiple sizes and formulas. There are specific personal body hygiene products on the market for those with limited mobility, who are traveling, or who do not have access to a water supply.
Personal Cleansing Wipes
Personal cleansing wipes are great for entire body hygiene. Since they come in convenient tubs or pouches, they are easy to transport. You can quickly and conveniently use these personal wipes to cleanse your hands, as a facial wipe, disinfect a surface, or even substitute toilet paper. Look for wipes that are pH-balanced, alcohol-free, fragrance-free, and contain aloe to soothe the skin, such as the Personally Delivered Wipes. These wipes are large, easy to use, rinse-free, and disposable, making them a great choice for everyday use and travel.
Rinse-free Body Washes
All-in-one body washes such as the 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 bedridden 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.
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 bacteria and viruses and come in various 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. For hand sanitizers to work effectively, 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 Dignity Quilted Beds Pad for Adults, and 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 with a waterproof outer edge and flaps to tuck in for security can help you feel comfortable and protected day or night. Did you know you can also use bed pads and underpads for potty-training pets?
Caring for yourself is good for both your physical and mental health. Maintaining a hygienic lifestyle is important to prevent and control illnesses. Getting into a good personal hygiene routine may be difficult and require patience and practice, but it is worth every effort. You should speak to your doctor if you have difficulty 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.