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Personal Hygiene Basics

By Sharon O'Neil ; Updated July 18, 2017

Personal hygiene is the process of keeping your body clean. When you stop taking care of yourself and allow your level of personal hygiene to fall, you increase your risk of becoming sick -- or being ostracized by others. It's easy to follow personal hygiene basics, even without expensive personal care products.

Wash your hands several times each day to lower the risk of developing infections and spreading disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages handwashing before food preparation and meals; after changing diapers; after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose into a tissue; after using the bathroom; and after touching animals. Use warm water and soap every time you wash your hands. Create a soapy lather and rub your hands for 15 to 20 seconds.

Brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day to remove bacteria that can cause bad breath and gum disease. Because your toothbrush cannot reach into all the tight spaces between your teeth, use dental floss to remove any remaining food particles that can lead to bacteria development. Proper dental care helps to keep your smile white and reduces the likelihood of cavities and unhealthy gums.

Wash your face twice daily. Once you reach puberty, your body produces more hormones that create skin changes. Glands in the skin begin producing more of an oily secretion known as sebum. Sebum can build up and clog pores, resulting in acne. By washing your face in the morning and before bed, you can help prevent clogged pores and reduce the chance of acne breakouts.

Shower or bathe on a regular basis. Your skin is your body's largest organ and it goes through a constant process of shedding dead skin cells and replacing them with new ones. You must wash your entire body with soap and water to remove dead skin, dirt and oil. Adolescents and adults also perspire and can develop body odor. Active individuals usually need a bath or shower once a day to feel fresh and control body odor.

Shampoo your hair regularly. Like the skin, sebaceous glands at the base of the hair follicle produce sebum. Your hair needs some sebum to keep the hair shaft and scalp from drying out. Sebum production changes throughout your lifetime, with the teen years having the highest amount. Washing your hair helps to control the oil and keep your hair feeling clean and manageable.

Warnings

Even with good personal hygiene, you can develop skin problems such as acne, eczema, athlete's foot, or rashes. See a dermatologist who can recommend treatment or medication to help.

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