Why is it important to practice proper hygiene?

Written by alyssa guzman
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Why is it important to practice proper hygiene?
Practicing proper hygiene promotes public health and personal well-being. (hygiene things image by AGphotographer from Fotolia.com)

Proper hygiene involves taking care of your physical and emotional health with careful grooming and good sleep habits, and by staying clean. People with poor hygiene--whether it's reflected in bad breath, dirty hands, dandruff or body odour--may experience adverse reactions when interacting with others. They may also experience infections and other health problems that could threaten their ability to earn a living. Practicing good hygiene can enrich your professional and personal lives.

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Significance

Cleanliness is an important public health issue. Poor hygiene is socially unacceptable and unhealthy. Proper hygiene encompasses practices that promote public health. Personal hygiene is especially important in publicly accessible environments, such as office buildings, restaurants and shopping centres. When in a community setting, people who do not wash their hands properly can spread infectious diseases. In a restaurant setting, disease can spread to food through both patrons and workers with poor grooming and hygiene.

Social Health

Failure to maintain proper standards of hygiene can have many adverse social and psychological implications, such as ridicule, embarrassment and societal alienation. Children with bad personal hygiene may be bullied or ridiculed. Poorly groomed professionals may be avoided by colleagues. Body odour, bad breath and dirty fingernails may limit a person's ability to interact and connect with others. When you practice proper hygiene, it boosts your personal confidence. People who are well groomed are more likely to develop emotionally fulfilling relationships and enjoy rewarding careers.

Physical Health

People with poor hygiene are more susceptible to health problems and irritations. Body-lice infestation is a prominent public-health problem in areas lacking good hygiene and sanitation standards. Many hair and scalp conditions, such as dandruff, lice and scalp grease, are avoidable through regular hair washing. Hair, clothing and skin can absorb the odour of strong-smelling foods and products, such as cigarettes, and contribute to body odour. Failure to bathe regularly can exacerbate body odour and lead to fungal infections. Gum disease, bad breath and dental cavities are common problems for people who do not practice good oral hygiene.

Good Sleep Hygiene

Many people overstimulate themselves with late-night activities, such as watching television, and do not get adequate rest. People who sleep poorly are likely to experience fatigue, irritability and decreased concentration during the day. These people are at greater risk for accidents and falls. Sleep deprivation also weakens the immune system, making people more vulnerable to illness. Getting enough sleep improves heart health, bolsters memory, reduces stress and increases mental alertness.

Possibly Fatal

Poor hygiene is potentially deadly. In the 1330s, millions of people in Europe died from bubonic plague. They were particularly vulnerable to infection because of inadequate hygiene standards, crowded living conditions and poor sanitation, conditions that still exist in many places in the world today.

Among other things, people with poor hygiene may encounter methicillian-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections, more commonly referred to as MRSA. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the symptoms of MRSA include abscesses, boils and other pus-filled lesions. The condition is resistant to some antibiotics, including methicillin, oxacillin, penicillin and amoxicillin. If not properly diagnosed or treated, people infected with MRSA can spread the disease to others, and may die.

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