Health and Hygiene

Health and Hygiene

Maintaining personal hygiene is essential for more than one reason; social, health, personal, psychological or just as a way of life. Maintaining a good standard of hygiene helps keep infections, illnesses and bad odors at bay. The importance of hygiene should be taught from an early age to help cultivate good habits. Personal hygiene can be defined as an act of maintaining cleanliness and grooming of the external body. Maintaining good personal hygiene consists of bathing, washing your hands, brushing teeth and sporting clean clothing. Additionally, it is also about making safe and hygienic decisions when you are around others.

Components of personal hygiene and it’s relation with health

Face hygiene

Our face reveals our daily practice of personal hygiene. Face hygiene includes all parts of the face. The most important area to keep clean is the eyes. The eye discharges protective fluids that could dry and accumulate around the eye. They are visible when a person gets up in the morning. The organic substance of the eye discharge can attract flies and this is dangerous because the fly is a carrier (vector) of trachoma and conjunctivitis.  A person should wash their face every morning in order to remove all dirt that they have come in contact with during the course of the day. This will keep your face clean all day. Children are advised to wash their face frequently. Never share your face towel with others.

Fingernail and toenail hygiene

A nail is hard tissue that constantly grows. Long fingernails tend to accumulate or trap dirt on the underside. The dirt could be as a result of defecation or touching infected and contaminated surfaces. Keeping nails trimmed and in good shape weekly is important in maintaining good health. Clip nails short along their shape but do not cut them so close that it damages the skin. Razor blades and fingernail cutters or scissors are used to cut nails. Nail cutters should not be shared with others.


Ear hygiene

Ear wax accumulates in the ear canal that leads from the outer ear to the ear drum. As the secretion comes out of the ear it collects dust particles from the air. Daily washing with soap and water is enough to keep the outer ear clean. Do not reach farther than you can with your little finger into your ear. Putting in hairpins, safety pins or blunt-edged things for cleaning purposes might harm the ear. If you feel wax has accumulated and is plugging your ears and interfering with hearing, consult your doctor.

Hair hygiene

The hair follicles from which the hair grows produce oil from the sebaceous glands that keeps the hair smooth. The scalp (the skin covering the head) also has numerous sweat glands and is a surface for the accumulation of dead skin cells. The oil, sweat and dead cells all add together and can make the hair greasy and look dirty unless you wash it regularly.

Armpit and bottom hygiene

These are body parts that easily get sweaty and where ventilation is very poor. After puberty, our sweat gains a specific and unpleasant odour which may be offensive to others. The armpits and the bottom should be washed daily.  Anal cleansing is the hygienic practice of cleaning the anus after defecation. The anus and buttocks may be cleansed with clean toilet paper or similar paper products. Water may be used. Hands must be washed with soap afterwards. The use of rags, leaves, stones, corn cobs, or sticks must be discouraged as these materials can damage the skin.

Clothes hygiene

We usually have two layers of clothing. The internal layer is underwear  such as pants, vest and T-shirt. These are right next to our skin and collect sweat and dead skin cells, which can stain the cloth. Bacteria love to grow on this dirt and produce a bad smell in addition to the specific odour of the sweat. Underwear must be washed more frequently than the outer layer of clothing.  Clothes hygiene is an important aspect of one’s dignity. Changing used clothes for clean ones every day is recommended. Washing dirty clothes requires adequate clean water, detergents (solid or powdered soap) and washing facilities.

Menstrual hygiene

The vagina is able to clean itself; no special care is needed other than washing the external genitals. Washing the outer genital area with clean water must be a daily practice. Change tampons and sanitary napkins or pads regularly. Always wash your hands before and after handling a tampon or pad. Clean and soft cloths can be used in place of sanitary pads. The use of dirty cloths must be dicouraged. Menstrual blood-absorbing items must be properly disposed of in a burial pit or other appropriate method.


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