The Importance of Personal Hygiene

Shahnaz Husain
One of the most important parts of looking and feeling good is personal hygiene. You may have attractive features and an alluring figure, but lack of personal cleanliness can really put people off. Believe me, it shows. No amount of perfume, cologne or make-up can camouflage the signs of inadequate hygiene. Improper daily hygiene can also undermine the health in a number of ways. As you know, the skin excretes waste substances through sweat. The sweat and deposits settle on the skin and must be removed daily. In fact, it is the decomposition of bacteria in sweat that causes unpleasant body odour. Decomposition begins to occur about six hours after we sweat.
A daily bath, or shower, is a must. All parts of the body should be washed well, specially the neck, armpits, groin and feet. These are areas where germs accumulate. Apart from mild soap, you would need a clean rough-textured washcloth or loofah, a long-handled brush for the back, a pumice stone, a nail brush, aromatic oil, cologne, talcum powder. Sponges are ideal for soaping the skin, while a washcloth helps to scrub the body. This not only removes dirt and pollutants, but also helps to cleanse the skin of dead cells and stimulate circulation. A pumice stone can be used on the elbows and heels. Keeping the underarm region free of hair helps to prevent bacteria from breeding and thriving and helps avoid stale odour. Talcum powder, during the summer months, helps sweat evaporate. Use a cologne or deodorant soon after your bath, while the skin is still damp.
Pay special attention to the feet. After washing them well, dry them thoroughly and apply talcum powder, especially during the hot weather. In summer wear open footwear, so that the sweat evaporates. This helps to avoid fungal infections like athlete’s foot and ring worm, which grow on moist skin.
A woman’s health issue that is also important is menstrual hygiene. In India, both lack of education and social stigmas have made menstruation a topic that is taboo. In the rural and backward areas, women do not have access to information and to basic necessities like sanitary pads. This can lead to lack of hygiene and infection. Many programmes have been started to raise awareness about the importance of menstrual health and personal hygiene, but these are still to reach areas in a developing country like India. Women should also be made aware of aspects of personal hygiene, like the necessity to wash towels and clothes.
Keeping clean and fragrant helps to project an attractive appearance and boost self-confidence. The use of antiperspirants and deodorants does help. Be sure to choose a mild deodorant. If the skin burns or tingles for more than two minutes, you should stop using it. It is better to try them out on a small area of the skin first.
Personal hygiene has many aspects. Knowing that you have attended to each and every part of the body imparts a feeling of self-confidence, which helps you to look and feel good.