From the Hilbert College Wellness Center – Winning Health Battles, with Proper Hygiene

From the Hilbert College Wellness Center

by Kirsten Falcone, RN

“The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”:
Winning Health Battles, with Proper Hygiene

Every day, everywhere we go, we are surrounded by opportunistic germs and parasites. Some are “good,” some are “bad,” and some can even be “ugly.” They could be on your doorknobs, countertops, hand rails, toilet, in your food, clothing, sheets, the gym you frequent, or even in your own reusable water bottles. Some exposure to germs can be “good” for you and strengthen your immune system; they can be beneficial, and you shouldn’t “wipe” them out. In fact, even some “bad” germs can benefit you by strengthening your immunity to invaders. But, how you approach these “bad guys” can make a difference between being sick frequently, and rarely coming down with an illness at all.

It isn’t enjoyable to contemplate these bad guys, but, face it. This is reality. As the gunfighters in westerns prove, you can’t win a fight without bullets. There are consequences for practicing poor hygiene. Since information is power, you don’t want to be low on ammunition. You should stand ready and armed with knowledge! Here is a short list of the most common assailants for which to be vigilant.

Hygiene-related illnesses and diseases are caused by villains, such as fungi, viruses, bacteria, or parasites. Colds and the flu, as well as plantar warts, are caused by viruses. Bacterial illnesses include dental caries and swimmer’s ear. Athlete’s foot and ringworm are fungal. Lice (whether body, pubic or head), and pinworm are parasitical. And chronic diarrhea and recreational water illness have various causes.

The following are some general tips for everyday personal hygiene:

  • Wash your hands. It is the best way to avoid getting sick! (Wash Your Hands – Recent Article)
  • Don’t touch your face, nose, ears, eyes, or mouth, with soiled hands. Conversely, don’t touch your face with clean hands and forget to wash your hands afterward.
  • Brush your teeth and tongue two to three times per day. Floss once per day.
  • Bathe regularly, and keep your nails clean and short.
  • Foot hygiene: Athlete’s foot and plantar warts can be avoided by wearing sandals in public bathrooms or shower areas.
  • Clothing hygiene: Wear clean clothes, change underwear and socks daily, don’t wear someone else’s shoes or soiled clothing, and wear clothing that is appropriate for the season and the circumstances.
  • Sexual hygiene: Find one partner for life, preferably. (See below for link to article on STDs.)

The following are tips for keeping a clean environment:

  • Cleaning your home: First wash surfaces with an appropriate cleaner and warm water, to remove dirt and grime. Use paper towels or washable rags. Always disinfect rags or sponges before reusing them, or toss them out. Dust, open windows to ventilate, and open the curtains to let the sunshine in.
  • Disinfecting your home: After cleaning, use a germ-killing solution, such as a bleach or vinegar solution, to sanitize surfaces, such as door knobs and handles, countertops where food is prepared, faucets, and anything that gets handled frequently.
  • Wash out your reusable water bottles every day, and let them air dry. (See the link below for water bottle hygiene.) Bacteria thrive around the caps of water bottles, especially those that still have a moist environment inside.
  • Don’t share personal care tools (e.g. toothbrush, nail clipper, comb, towels, glasses, cups, utensils).
  • Keep your refrigerator clean, to kill mold and mildew (fungi).
  • Food: Wash fruits and vegetables before eating, checking expiration dates on canned and bagged items. Don’t eat cooked food, such as a casserole, that has been sitting out at room temperature for more than two hours. Even reheating won’t kill the germs that will make you sick. Just toss it out. (“Waste it!”)
  • Wash sheets, towels, workout clothes and underwear in hot water and use a hot clothes dryer.

If you follow these guidelines, you will most likely be healthier, feel ill infrequently, and appear a great deal healthier, too. In other words, you will prosper in disarming the “good,” killing the “bad,” and dodging the “ugly.”

For more information on everyday hygiene, visit these Web sites:

Personal hygiene
CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):
https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/hygiene/body/

Personal hygiene checklist
WellnessOwners.com:
http://wellnessowners.com/personal-hygiene-checklist/

Household cleaning tips
CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):
https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/emergency/cleaning-sanitizing/household-cleaning-sanitizing.html

Water bottle hygiene
SFGate:
http://homeguides.sfgate.com/bacteria-grow-keep-reusing-water-bottles-79320.html

Article “How Clean Should We Be?”
WebMD:
http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/how-clean-hygiene-germs#1

Protecting yourself from sexually transmitted diseases
WebMD:
http://www.webmd.com/sexual-conditions/guide/sexual-health-stds#2-5

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