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One of the most effective ways we have to protect ourselves and others from unnecessary illness is by good hygiene or personal hygiene as most people call it, though many use it unchangingly.
What Is Good Hygiene?
Good hygiene is simply an act of cleanliness. It includes conditions or practices conducive to maintaining health and preventing disease.
Some of the good hygiene practices include showering or bathing regularly, washing hands regularly and especially before handling food, washing scalp hair, keeping hair short or removing hair, wearing clean clothing, brushing teeth, cutting fingernails, besides other practices.
How To Have Good Hygiene
If you want to minimize your risk of infection and also enhance your overall health, follow these basic good hygiene tips:
- Bathe regularly. Wash your body and your hair often. “I’m not saying that you need to shower or bathe every day,” remarks Dr Novey. “But you should clean your body and shampoo your hair at regular intervals that work for you.” Your body is constantly shedding skin. Novey explains, “That skin needs to come off. Otherwise, it will cake up and can cause illnesses.”
- Trim your nails. Keeping your finger and toenails trimmed and in good shape will prevent problems such as hangnails and infected nail beds. Feet that are clean and dry are less likely to contract athlete’s foot, Novey says.
- Brush and floss. Ideally, you should brush your teeth after every meal. At the very least, brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily. Brushing minimizes the accumulation of bacteria in your mouth, which can cause tooth decay and gum disease, Novey says. Flossing, too, helps maintain strong, healthy gums. “The bacteria that builds up and causes gum disease can go straight to the heart and cause very serious valve problems,” Novey explains. Unhealthy gums also can cause your teeth to loosen, which makes it difficult to chew and to eat properly, he adds. To maintain a healthy smile, visit the dentist at six-month intervals for checkups and cleanings.
- Wash your hands. Washing your hands before preparing or eating food, after going to the bathroom, after coughing or sneezing, and after handling garbage, goes a long way toward preventing the spread of bacteria and viruses. Keep a hygiene product, like an alcohol-based sanitizing gel, handy for when soap and water aren’t available.
- Sleep tight. Get plenty of rest — 8 to 10 hours a night — so that you are refreshed and are ready to take on the day every morning. Lack of sleep can leave you feeling run down and can compromise your body’s natural defences, your immune system, Novey says. ¹
How to Have Good Hygiene As a Girl
- Shower or bathe every day or two: Bacteria feed on the sweat and skin cells that accumulate on your body throughout the day – that’s what causes body odour.
- Shampoo and condition your hair: Shampoo your hair 2-3 times a week.
- Wash your face twice a day: Use warm water and a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser to wash your face in the morning and before bed.
- Wear clean clothes: You don’t necessarily have to wash your clothes every time you wear them, but always wear clothes without stains, wrinkles, and smells on them.
- Wash your hands often: You should wash your hands regularly throughout the day, but especially after using the bathroom, after sneezing or coughing, before making or touching food, and after touching things that lots of other people have touched (for example, after handling money – think about how many people touch money!)
- Have good illness hygiene: If you’re sick, it’s important to practice good hygiene to protect others. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and wash your hands often.
- Use deodorant daily: It’s normal to have body odour, especially under your arms.
- Shave, if you want to: Whether or not you want to shave your legs, underarms, and private area is completely up to you. Long hair in your armpits and groin might trap moisture and odours, but showering regularly and keeping the area clean and dry should solve that.
- Have good dental hygiene: Brush your teeth, floss, and use mouthwash at least twice a day – after breakfast and before bed.
- Don’t share personal items: It’s nice to share, but not when it comes to things like your toothbrush, razor blade, or hairbrush
How To Keep Good Hygiene During Your Period
- Keep track of your period: The best way to avoid accidentally bleeding into your underwear or being caught without tampons when you need them is to know generally when to expect your period. There are many websites and apps for this, like WebMDs Ovulation Calculator. Or use a journal, diary, or period calendar. Write down the first day of your period, and keep track over several months.
- The average menstrual cycle is 28 days long, but this can vary a lot. Count from the first day of your period one month to the first day of your period next month. If you take an average over three months, you’ll probably have a good idea of how long your cycle is. For example, if it’s 29 days one month, 30 days the next month, and 28 days the third month, add all these together and divide by 3 months – your average cycle is 29 days long. However, keep in mind that your period can vary a lot while you are a teen and it may range from 21 to 45 days.
If you have an irregular cycle, talk to your parent or a doctor for advice and possible treatment.
- Change your feminine hygiene products regularly. On average, you probably need to use three to six pads or tampons per day. For heavier flow (the first few days of your period) and at night, use longer, heavier pads with wings (side protectors) to prevent spilling. Change your pad or tampon every four to eight hours, depending on your flow. Never wear a tampon for more than eight hours because of the risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS).
- Don’t be embarrassed if you accidentally bleed into your underwear or on your sheets. This happens to most women at some point. Rinse the linen with cold water and immediately put it in the wash.
- During your period, wear dark underwear and clothes. That way accidental spotting will be less noticeable. If this happens at school or in public, tie a sweatshirt around your waist to cover up until you get home.
- Getting comfortable with tampons can help if you like to swim, play sports, or be active. Tampons with applicators are easier to use than those without. If using a tampon is still uncomfortable, try a bit of vaginal lubricant on the end before inserting it. However, do not use petroleum jelly due to the risk of infection.
- You can also try alternate products during your period, like cups or THINX period undies.
- Shower regularly. It’s not only okay to shower during your period, but it’s also important to do so. Showering helps you feel clean, and the warm water can improve menstrual cramps. Shower like normal, washing your vagina with warm water. When you’re done, pat yourself dry with a dark coloured towel to avoid staining linens, or dry your vagina with paper towels first. Then use a fresh pad, tampon, or cup before getting dressed.
- You can remove tampons and cups before showering, but you don’t have to. Of course, take off your underwear and dispose of your pad first.
- If you’re bleeding heavily, you should probably avoid taking a bath. The running water in a shower will wash the blood away better than still bathwater.
- Rinse any residue out of the shower when you’re done – don’t leave it for the next person.
- Ask for help. If you’re not sure how to use a tampon, need help buying hygiene products, or have questions or concerns about your period, ask an older relative for advice. Remember that your mom, aunt, and older sister went through this at some point, too! You can also talk to your doctor if that feels more comfortable ²
How To Have Good Hygiene For Guys
As a man who wants to live healthily, you need to follow some of these good hygiene practices for guys:
- 1. REPLACE YOUR BLADES
Razorblade cartridges are ridiculously expensive, so we often eke out their use over a week or more. However, a blade should only be used 3-4 times before replacement.
- 2. GET RID OF YOUR NOSE HAIR
When you can’t tell the difference between nose hair and upper-lip stubble, you have a problem.
- 3. WEAR JANDALS IN PUBLIC SHOWERS
Here’s a completely unscientific fact based on years of my own observations: Only about 10 per cent of men wear jandals when using public showers.
- 4. TRIM YOUR TOENAILS MORE OFTEN
On the note of feet, most men are reasonably good at trimming their fingernails every 10 days or so, but will neglect our toenails because “feet don’t matter”. Newsflash, gents: They do matter.
- 5. FIGHT DANDRUFF
Because men have a far weaker scalp barrier than women, we’re more susceptible to dandruff. I’ll often see those flaky bits of skin that look like a mini snowstorm on other guys, and they’re particularly visible on dark blue or black suits.
- 6. BANISH ‘BACNE’
Acne on your back, known as “bacne”, affects many men. Usually, it gets concentrated on the shoulders and upper back, but for some guys will appear on their bum – hence the new term “butt-ne”.
- 8. WIPE YOUR BUM PROPERLY
The term “skid marks” is almost universally associated with men. Why? Because lots of us don’t wipe our bums properly.
This is a problem easily solved by buying a packet of those flushable wet wipes. They’re not just for babies.
- 9. TERMINATE COFFEE BREATH
Have you ever wondered if your breath stinks after a cup of coffee? “Coffee breath” is caused by the toxicological effects of caffeine, which slows down saliva production. ³
How To Have Good Hygiene Down There
The following steps must be taken to keep down there clean and hygienic:
- Wash the genitals every day. The penis, scrotum, anus, as well as the pubic hair, should be washed every day with mild soap and water.
- After urinating, you must shake the penis gently so as to expel the remaining drops of urine. You must also wipe the area dry.
- The anus should be wiped dry with a tissue or cleaned with water after a bowel movement.
- You must make it a habit to wash your hands after urinating and after cleaning the anus as germs can easily spread through hands.
- The base of the penis and the testicles also need to be cleaned daily to avoid a strong sweaty smell from the pubic hair.
- Wash your genitals after a sexual encounter.
- Keep the undergarments dry.
- Change sanitary pads after 4-6 hours.
- Clean the vagina after intercourse without fail.
- Avoid using soap while washing your vagina.
- Avoid douching.
- Say no to scented feminine hygiene products.
- Avoid wearing tight clothes.
One personal benefit of good hygiene is having better health. Keeping your body clean helps prevent illness and infection from bacteria or viruses. The simple act of washing your hands regularly is an effective way to keep germs from spreading.