By Shauna Ayres MPH: Health Behavior candidate 2017
One should practice basic hygiene not just as a courtesy to others, but also for themselves. Personal hygiene is much more than just showering and using deodorant, although those are very important. In fact, personal hygiene is just another term for healthy lifestyle. Below is an elementary personal hygiene checklist. See what areas you are already doing well, what areas you could modify, and what other aspects of your life could use some personal hygiene. Remember personal hygiene is not about egoism, it is about ridding your body, mind, and life of harmful toxins. As the stressful holidays approach, this will be even more important. Although it is a time of giving, don’t forget to make time for yourself.
- Clean your ears. Excess ear wax can build up in your ear canal and diminish hearing. Use a ear cleaning solution to remove earwax, not a cotton swab.
- Brush & floss. Poor oral health can lead to cavities, bad breath, and in the worst cases cause sepsis and death. Brush twice a day, floss daily, rinse your mouth after meals, get a new toothbrush every 3-4 months, visit your dentist twice a year, and avoid high fat or acidic foods/drinks. Remember to scrub your tongue too.
- Shower. Sweat, dead skin, microorganisms, dirt, and odors build up on your skin throughout the day. Shower daily with soap and water. Remember to wash your entire body: face, feet, and genitals too! Also, wash or change your towel once or twice a week.
- Wash your hands. Our hands are the dirtiest part of our bodies because we are constantly touching things—door knobs, money, cellphones, etc. Always wash your hands before and after using the restroom, eating, and touching animals. Regularly disinfecting commonly used object such as cellphones and keyboards is good hygienic practice as well.
- Trim your nails. Unclipped fingernails collect dirt and can be just as harmful as not washing your hands. Clip nails as needed and clean them with a brush whenever you wash your hands. However, avoid biting your nails.
- Wash your hair. Unwashed hair can be smelly and cause itchy scalps. Depending on the length and dryness/oiliness, as well as your activity level, you may wash your hair daily or just once or twice a week. Limit the use of hair dryers, flat irons, dyes, and other chemicals to maintain strong, healthy hair.
- Do your laundry. Keep your clothes clean and change our basics daily (underwear, bras, undershirts, socks, etc).
- Don’t “just do it.” Know who you are having sex with and use condoms and other contraceptives. Sexual monogamy is the healthiest, but if you do engage in casual sex always use condoms, disinfect your genitals with antiseptics to help prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs), get tested for STIs regularly, and get the HPV vaccine.
- Be active. Regular physical activity promotes immunity, rids the body of toxins, and clears pores. The recommended amount of activity is 150 minutes per week or 30 minutes per day.
- Sleep. Not enough or too much sleep can cause a wealth of problems. Establish a regular bedtime routine and aim for 6-8 hours of sleep per night. Also, make sure to wash or change your sheets weekly to prevent body acne and bad odors.
- Eat clean. Good nutrition makes you look and feel healthier inside and out. Drinking more water will also cleanse the body. Remember to clean out your refrigerator periodically and remove expired or spoiled foods.
- Keep it tidy. Disinfect surface areas regularly, especially in the kitchen and bathroom to prevent harmful microbial buildup. Ventilate your home with outside air and let natural light in when possible; this will naturally reduce the number of microbes and bacteria. Also, declutter your environment; it helps with reducing stress and anxiety.