Good health is often associated with a sensible diet, regular exercise and other lifestyle choices, and while these are major contributors, good hygiene is also important. Maintaining good hygiene includes practices that keep your body clean, lower the risk of illness and limit the spread of disease.
In reality, you come into contact with literally thousands of bacteria, virus and pathogens every day, without even leaving your home. But with healthy hygiene, you can strengthen your internal defenses and minimize the risk of contracting disease.
What is Healthy Hygiene?
Healthy hygiene utilizes common sense practices that begins with good, personal hygiene. It usually includes the things that your mom told you like wash your hands and behind your ears. From a child’s standpoint, it may have been an annoyance, but these small rituals actually play a very important role in health. The following is a list of healthy hygiene habits and why they are important for you and your loved ones.
Wash your hands when necessary. This includes washing after using the restroom, before and after handling food, before you eat, after changing a diaper or blowing your nose, after handling garbage and after touching an animal. Soap effectively breaks down viruses while it dissolves lipids that protect them, and using soap and water together make a powerful combination to destroy pathogens and wash them away. Incorporate mindfulness and awareness by paying attention to what you are touching when in public, like door handles, because most flus and viruses are spread through contact. To combat this, wash your hands for about 30 to 45 seconds as often as you can and remember to keep your hands away from your face.
Keep your nails trimmed or wash with a nail brush. Dirt, grime and pathogens can easily hide under nails, and are not removed with a typical hand washing. But keeping your nails trimmed leaves less chance of this happening, and if you have longer fingernails, using a nail brush can help remove hidden dirt.
Shower daily or at regular intervals. Your skin sheds on a daily basis, and can stick to you due to body oils and pollution from the air. At the same time, your skin is an organ of elimination, regularly excreting wastes such as metabolized alcohol, while certain bacteria can live on the skin as it feeds on sweat and dead skin cells. But bathing or showering regularly helps remove dead skin cells along with oils and other debris that can stick to it. Your friends and loved ones will also appreciate the clean smell as body odor is also kept under control.
Wash your hair at least once each week to remove debris and oil buildup. Built up oils, or sebum, can lead to microfauna that can cause dandruff and other scalp issues. Oil buildup can also cause hair loss as it clogs hair follicles and limits hair growth. But washing with a proper shampoo or co-wash helps remove oil buildup as well as waste from air pollution.
Wear clean clothes to keep your skin fresh and healthy. Keeping undergarments clean lessens the chance of bacterial and yeast infections, which can be very uncomfortable and even lead to body odor and body acne. Wearing clean jeans, shirts and socks also limits the risk of bacterial buildup. But there are more than health benefits to wearing clean clothes; it also leads to self-confidence, as they smell fresh and help you look your best.
Brush your teeth daily and floss. Brushing your teeth helps remove bacteria that causes tooth decay and cavities. It can lessen your chance of developing gingivitis and periodontitis, gum diseases that make your gums bleed and lead to tooth loss. In severe cases, gum disease and untreated mouth infections can spread throughout the body and lead to more serious health issues like heart disease and bacterial pneumonia. Flossing is important to remove debris trapped between teeth that your toothbrush can’t reach. Make sure to brush at least twice daily and floss according to your dental hygienist’s instructions.
Promptly care for wounds. Use antibacterial solutions to clean the wound and clean band aids to protect the wound from pathogens. Change the band aid often as you wash your hands throughout the day.
Good Personal Habits and Mental Health
Neglecting personal hygiene may be an indication of depression. According to some in the medical community, poor hygiene is a form of self-neglect as one begins to stop tending to their personal needs. If you know someone who is neglecting their personal hygiene, see if you can offer support. If you are experiencing this issue, then seek help or talk to a friend.
Healthy Hygiene for Travelling
Travelling today can be especially hazardous as you come into contact with bacteria and germs that your body is not used to. By taking special care and paying attention, you can avoid contracting disease and bringing it home. Here are a few tips:
- Wash your hands, a lot. And when you do, do not touch food or your face until they are completely dry.
- If you cook, do not use dishes or utensils until they are completely dry
- If you have no bottled water, boil the tap water
- Drink only bottled water, if possible
- Use bottled water to wash fruits and vegetables before eating
- Use bottled water to brush your teeth
- Carry hand wipes to inconspicuously wipe heavily touched items like door handles, cans or bottles before using
- If you are especially worried, ask your doctor about wearing a face mask while you travel
Another way to stay healthy is to not stress. With so many flus and viruses these days, it may help to remember that your body is equipped to deal with them, and good nutrition can help support your immune system. And personal, healthy hygiene is the added protection to keep you strong while keeping those around you safe.