Early in 2020, when the world went into lockdown, the World Health Organisation made it clear that good hygiene is probably the only way to protect ourselves and our communities from the Covid-19 virus. The virus though new, belongs to the Corona family of viruses that causes the common cold, as also life-threatening diseases like SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). Indeed, the pandemic has taught us the value of personal hygiene, especially the advantage of thorough hand washing.
We are well into the 21st century, surrounded by enviable gadgets, mind-boggling technology and medical marvels and yet when that invisible, microscopic enemy struck, our defense strategy all boiled down to one thing — washing hands with soap and water.
In those early days, experts advised that we wash our hands every 20 minutes. A year into the pandemic, we probably don’t do this as frequently, but universally people have realized how many germs live on our hands and on surfaces all around us and that simple, basic hygiene can protect us.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Keeping hands clean can prevent 1 in 3 diarrheal illnesses and 1 in 5 respiratory infections, such as a cold or the flu”.
Hygiene is, therefore, an important barrier to many communicable diseases, considerably reducing visits to the doctor, and absenteeism due to illness in the workplace.
A few guidelines for proper personal hygiene
- Make sure you clean your hands before eating, before food prep and after using the bathroom. And, if you still haven’t gotten into the habit of washing your hands thoroughly as soon as you step into your home, then do so, to ensure your home is a safe, germ-free haven for you and your family. Another aspect of personal hygiene is regular bathing and laundering clothes, bedsheets, towels etc.
- Try and keep nails short; it just saves you so much time; however, if you insist on growing your nails, then make sure you wash under the nails frequently and especially before you eat, before you cook and every time you use the washroom. It seems rather simplistic to harp on this but washing hands has been proven to save lives.
- The same goes for hair; if you are unable to take care of long hair, through regular washing, then keep it short and manageable.
- Cuts and wounds need immediate attention. Bathe the area with soap and under running water. And cover it with a plaster.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with tissues, throw the tissue in the bin and wash your hands afterwards. If you do not have ready access to tissues and you know you can’t wash your hands immediately, cough or sneeze into your inner elbow.
Cleanliness promotes the feel-good factor
Good personal hygiene is linked to how you perceive yourself and therefore is a boost to self-esteem. This in turn leads to more self-confidence, a positive mood and vibe and greater happiness. Often our anxieties regarding weight, body shape, smell, skin, hair etc. can be allayed to some extent when we care for our bodies and keep ourselves clean and healthy.
Looking good and staying well is easier than we think. It all begins with adopting good, daily hygiene habits.
Global Handwashing Day: October 15!