7 Personal Hygiene | Body, Facial, & Dental Hygiene
The human body can provide places for disease-causing germs and parasites to grow and multiply. These places include the skin and in and around the openings to the body. It is less likely that germs and parasites will get inside the body if people have good personal hygiene habits.
Wash your hands after you use the restroom. Scrub with soap for 20 to 30 seconds, and be sure to clean between your fingers, on the back of your hands, and under your nails. Rinse with warm water, and dry with a clean towel.
If you don’t have running water or soap, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer will also work. Use one that’s at least 60 percent alcohol.
Personal preference may dictate how often you wish to shower, but most people will benefit from a rinse at least every other day. Showering with soap helps rinse away dead skin cells, bacteria, and oils.
You should also wash your hair at least twice a week. Shampooing your hair and scalp helps remove skin buildup and protects against oily residues that can irritate your skin.
Trim your nails regularly to keep them short and clean. Brush under them with a nail brush or washcloth to rinse away buildup, dirt, and germs.
Tidying your nails helps you prevent spreading germs into your mouth and other body openings. You should also avoid biting your nails
Good dental hygiene is about more than just pearly white teeth. Caring for your teeth and gums is a smart way to prevent gum diseases and cavities Brush at least twice a day for 2 minutes. Aim to brush after you wake up and before bed. If you can, brush after every meal, too. Floss between your teeth daily, and ask your dentist about using an antibacterial mouthwash.
These two steps can help prevent tooth decay and eliminate pockets where bacteria and germs can build up.
If you’re not feeling well, you should take steps to keep from spreading germs to others. This includes covering your mouth and nose when sneezing, wiping down shared surfaces with an antibacterial wipe, and not sharing any utensils or electronics. Also, immediately throw away any soiled tissues.
Germs on your hands can easily enter your body through your mouth, nose, eyes, or ears. Wash your hands:
- when you handle food
- before you eat
- if you handle garbage
- when you sneeze
- any time you touch an animal
Likewise, wash your hands after changing a baby’s diaper, helping someone clean themselves, or when cleaning a cut or wound.
Home and Everyday Hygiene
Home hygiene pertains to the hygiene practices that prevent or minimize the spread of disease at home and other everyday settings such as social settings, public transport, the workplace, public places, etc.
Hygiene in a variety of settings plays an important role in preventing the spread of infectious diseases.
It includes procedures used in a variety of domestic situations such as hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, food and water hygiene, general home hygiene (hygiene of environmental sites and surfaces), care of domestic animals, and home health care (the care of those who are at greater risk of infection).
At present, these components of hygiene tend to be regarded as separate issues, although based on the same underlying microbiological principles. Preventing the spread of diseases means breaking the chain of infection transmission. Simply put, if the chain of infection is broken, infection cannot spread. In response to the need for effective codes of hygiene in home and everyday life settings the International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene has developed a risk-based approach based on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point ( HACCP ), also referred to as “targeted hygiene.” Targeted hygiene is based on identifying the routes of pathogen spread in the home and introducing hygiene practices at critical times to break the chain of infection.
The main sources of infection in the home are people (who are carriers or are infected), foods (particularly raw foods) and water, and domestic animals (in the U.S. more than 50% of homes have one or more pets ). Sites that accumulate stagnant water such as sinks, toilets , waste pipes, cleaning tools, face cloths, etc. readily support microbial growth and can become secondary reservoirs of infection, though species are mostly those that threaten “at risk” groups.
Pathogens (potentially infectious bacteria, viruses etc. colloquially called “germs”) are constantly shed from these sources via mucous membranes, feces, vomit, skin scales, etc. Thus, when circumstances combine, people are exposed, either directly or via food or water, and can develop an infection.
The main “highways” for the spread of pathogens in the home are the hands, hand and food contact surfaces, and cleaning cloths and utensils (e.g. fecal-oral route of transmission ). Pathogens can also be spread via clothing and household linens, such as towels . Utilities such as toilets and wash basins, for example, were invented for dealing safely with human waste but still have risks associated with them. Safe disposal of human waste is a fundamental need; poor sanitation is a primary cause of diarrhea disease in low income communities. Respiratory viruses and fungal spores are spread via the air.
Good home hygiene means engaging in hygiene practices at critical points to break the chain of infection.
Because the “infectious dose” for some pathogens can be very small (10-100 viable units or even less for some viruses), and infection can result from direct transfer of pathogens from surfaces via hands or food to the mouth, nasal mucous or the eye, ‘hygienic cleaning’ procedures should be sufficient to eliminate pathogens from critical surfaces.
Hygienic cleaning can be done through:
Mechanical removal (i.e., cleaning) using a soap or detergent . To be effective as a hygiene measure, this process must be followed by thorough rinsing under running water to remove pathogens from the surface.
Using a process or product that inactivates the pathogens in situ. Pathogen kill is achieved using a “micro-biocidal” product, i.e., a disinfectant or antibacterial product; waterless hand sanitizer ; or by application of heat.
In some cases combined pathogen removal with kill is used, e.g., laundering of clothing and household linens such as towels and bed linen.
Medical hygiene at home
Medical hygiene pertains to the hygiene practices that prevents or minimizes disease and the spreading of disease in relation to administering medical care to those who are infected or who are more “at risk” of infection in the home. Across the world, governments are increasingly under pressure to fund the level of healthcare that people expect. Care of increasing numbers of patients in the community, including at home is one answer, but can be fatally undermined by inadequate infection control in the home. Increasingly, all of these “at-risk” groups are cared for at home by a carer who may be a household member who thus requires a good knowledge of hygiene. People with reduced immunity to infection, who are looked after at home, make up an increasing proportion of the population (currently up to 20%).
The largest proportion are the elderly who have co-morbidities, which reduce their immunity to infection. It also includes the very young, patients discharged from hospital, taking immuno-suppressive drugs or using invasive systems, etc. For patients discharged from hospital, or being treated at home special “medical hygiene” (see above) procedures may need to be performed for them e.g. catheter or dressing replacement, which puts them at higher risk of infection.
Antiseptics may be applied to cuts, wounds abrasions of the skin to prevent the entry of harmful bacteria that can cause sepsis. Day-to-day hygiene practices, other than special medical hygiene procedures are no different for those at increased risk of infection than for other family members. The difference is that, if hygiene practices are not correctly carried out, the risk of infection is much greater.