Preventative Health Tips: Personal Hygiene

Good personal hygiene is a proactive measure which helps to prevent many health and bodily issues from happening in the first place.

This may sound like common sense, but washing one’s hands right after coming into contact with potential sources of bacteria, such as after throwing away garbage, using the bathroom, spending the day touching door knobs, and being in close contact with people, will help prevent bacteria from invading the own body. It is also important to clean under the fingernails because bacteria can collect there too. Not only is handwashing beneficial individually, but also to the community, especially those who have a weakened immune system, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Brushing one’s teeth twice a day, flossing and using mouthwash, are commonly recommended dental hygiene practices, but few realize just how important these habits are. For instance, the bacteria in the mouth are liable to travel to the other parts of the body and can infect systems such as the kidneys, eyes, and the heart. Flossing can also strengthen one’s gums, and when combined with brushing, improve the smell of one’s breath.

In regards to menstrual hygiene, it is important to use products such as tampons, menstrual cups or pads for the recommended amount of time. Pads should be changed every three to four hours. Tampons should be changed every four to eight hours; if kept longer, toxic shock syndrome may develop due to a bacterial infection, and it can cause symptoms such as headache, fever, confusion and muscle aches.

For those who wear contact lenses, the CDC recommends always washing hands before touching the lenses. Unless directed to do so by a physician, sleeping in contacts is not recommended and neither are showering or swimming with them. Furthermore, the proper contact lens disinfecting solution should be used to clean or rinse the lenses as well as the contact lens case. Contact lens cases should also be rinsed with disinfecting solution regularly, and depending on amount of use, changed every three to four months.

Personal hygiene also extends to living and work spaces. It is important to clean up and throw away old and uneaten food, as the food could develop botulism or bacteria, in addition to attracting unwanted pests.

Other key areas where germs can accumulate are on laptop keyboards and cell phone screens. Considering how frequently a laptop or phone, there can be large deposits of germs accumulated throughout the day on these devices. Therefore, cleaning and disinfecting them regularly is good practice, in addition to sanitizing your hands before use if possible.

Moreover, try to identify other areas that are used frequently and come into contact with hands daily. These include dorm room door knobs, closet doorknobs, and cooking appliances like microwave or refrigerator handles. It is a good idea to clean these areas regularly to avoid depositing germs on these surfaces. Also, in addition to doing laundry for clothing regularly, it is important to periodically change bed sheets and pillow covers to avoid bed mites, which can cause allergies and rashes depending on the size of the infestation.

Taking these simple steps to maintaining personal hygiene can help to avoid harmful and preventable health complications.

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