Hygiene is all about preserving good health
The human body may be home to 10 times as many bacteria as human cells. Researchers believe the human body has over 500 bacterial species living in and on it.
- Good personal hygiene is one of the most effective ways to protect ourselves, and others, from illness. This means washing your hands, especially, but also your body. Good habits can help control body odor and bad breath. Promote conditions and practices that keep you and your surroundings clean.
- Good hygiene helps to prevent the spread of organisms that can cause disease. This helps decrease illness in society, as well as the consequences of illness such as suffering, lost productivity and lost income. Improvements in hygiene can be linked to increased life expectancy, decreased infant mortality and decreased incidence of infectious disease.
- Maintaining good personal hygiene and living in clean surroundings can help you feel good about yourself about life in general.
- Personal hygiene means looking after your body to keep it clean and healthy. Good personal hygiene practices protect your body from a build-up of dirt and microorganisms that could harm your health, and also help prevent microorganisms from your body spreading to others. Having a body that feels clean and healthy can also improve your emotional wellbeing and social confidence.
- Important aspects of personal hygiene include hair, skin and nail care; hand washing; oral hygiene; sexual hygiene; and clothes laundering. There are areas of hygiene that relate specifically to women or men, as well as good hygiene habits that everyone can practice. Personal care and laundry products help make all of these tasks easy.
- One of the most effective ways we have to protect ourselves and others from illness is good personal hygiene. This means washing your hands, especially, but also your body. It means being careful not to cough or sneeze on others, cleaning things that you touch if you are unwell, putting items such as tissues (that may have germs) into a bin, and using protection (like gloves or condoms) when you might be at risk of catching an infection.
- Personal hygiene, such as bathing, is very much dependent on the culture in which you live. In some cultures, it is expected that you will wash your body at least every day and use deodorants to stop body smells. Other cultures have different expectations.
Body smells are caused by a number of factors working in combination, including:
- Chemicals in sweat, including pheromones, which are made by the body and sexually attract (or repel) other people.
- Wastes excreted through the skin, such as metabolized alcohol.
- The actions of bacteria that live on the skin and feed on dead skin cells and sweat.
- Unwashed clothes, such as underwear and socks.
Most infections, especially colds and gastroenteritis, are caught when we put our unwashed hands, which have germs on them, to our mouth. Some infections are caught when other people's dirty hands touch the food we eat. Hands and wrists should be washed with clean soap and water, using a brush if your fingernails are dirty. Dry your hands with something clean, such as paper towels or hot air dryers. You should always wash your hands:
- After using the toilet
- Before making or eating food
- After handling animals
- If you have been around someone who is coughing or has a cold
Personal hygiene for women
The vagina is able to clean itself no special care is needed, other than washing the external genitals. Do not put anything like douches into the vagina, as the delicate skin can be damaged. Here are some personal hygiene suggestions for women:
- Menstruation - wash your body, including your genital area, in the same way as you always do. Change tampons and sanitary napkins regularly, at least four to five times a day. Always wash your hands before and after handling a tampon or pad.
- Cystitis - is an infection of the bladder. This is a common condition for sexually active young women. Urinating after sexual intercourse can help to flush out any bacteria that may be in the urethra and bladder.
- Thrush - some soaps and detergents can irritate the skin of the vagina, and make thrush infections more likely. Some people find that they often get thrush when they use antibiotics. Use mild soap and un-perfumed toilet paper. Avoid tight, synthetic underwear. Try cotton underwear, and change regularly. There is medical treatment for thrush, so talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Personal hygiene for men
A build-up of secretions called smegma can form under the foreskin of uncircumcised men. If you are uncircumcised, gently pull back the foreskin when you have a shower and clean with water. You can use soap if you like, but make sure you rinse it off well.
Good dental hygiene includes regular brushing and flossing. Bad breath can be caused by diseases of the teeth, gums and mouth, such as infections. Most people have bad breath first thing in the morning because saliva is not made while you're asleep. Some foods that can cause bad breath include garlic and onion. Mouth washes, mouth sprays and flavored chewing gum can make your breath smell better for a while, but if you have a health problem in your mouth, you need to see your dentist.
When travelling overseas, take special care if you're not sure whether the water is safe. Suggestions include:
- Drink only bottled water.
- Don't use tap water to clean your teeth.
- When you wash your hands, make sure they are totally dry before you touch any food.
- Don't wash fruit or vegetables in unsafe water.
- If you have no other water source, make sure the water is boiled before you drink it by holding it at a rolling boil for one minute.
- Make sure any dishes, cups or other utensils are totally dry after they are washed.
Things to remember
- Good personal hygiene is one of the most effective ways to protect ourselves and others from many illnesses, such as gastroenteritis.
- Wash your hands regularly, especially before preparing or eating food and after going to the toilet.
If someone is unable to produce enough insulin, or if the body's cells are resistant to its effects (insulin resistance), then less glucose is transported from the blood into cells. Blood glucose levels remain high but the body's cells "starve." This can cause both short-term and long-term health problems, depending on the severity of the insulin deficiency and/or resistance. Diabetics typically have to control their blood glucose levels on a daily basis and over time to avoid health problems and complications. Treatment, which may involve specialized diets, exercise and/or medications, including insulin, aims to ensure that blood glucose does not get too high or too low.