Skin is the largest organ in the body which protects internal organs and maintains body temperature and also performs excretory function through sweating. Hence, keeping skin healthy and clean is part of personal hygiene, which boosts one’s body image.1Components of skin hygiene are regular bathing followed by drying and application of moisturizers over dry skin. Bathing: It needs to be carried out at least once a day, unless one carries out vigorous exercises. While bathing we need to lather well with soap, paying special attention to skin areas with folds and creases where sweating is more.
Then rinse well to remove dirt and soap. This should be followed by drying well, but gently, to prevent chapping. Clothes should be rinsed well and they should be hung dry along with towels. Clothes and towels should not be shared. Under garments need to be changed every day. Bed linen should be clean and changed once in one or two weeks.Ears: Retro-auricular area needs to cleaned daily to remove sweat, soap and sebum. However ear canal should not be cleaned without supervision.
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Care of feet: Washing feet every day, drying them thoroughly, especially between the toes is strongly advocated. This helps avoid athlete’s foot. Using a little foot powder can help keep them dryShaving: Area to be shaved needs should be washed and rinsed thoroughly and lather, cream or talcum powder can be applied before shaving.
Sharp razor should be used always. Blades should be changed frequently.Hair care: Regular shampooing keeps hair clean. People with dry hair can shampoo less frequently whereas subjects with oily hair need frequent hair washing.
Shampooing can be done daily. Before washing, the hair needs to be brushed to remove knots and snarls. Then lathering has to be done after wetting the hair.
Shampoo should be rubbed gently with finger tips and removed by rinsing with warm water. Conditioner is used to make hair manageable. Gentle brushing of hair, once daily helps improving circulation. Brushes and combs have to be washed with warm water using soap or baking soda. Bathing practices for newborns: Even though bathing immersed in water is believed to be superior to washing alone, it cannot be recommended due shortage of water in developing country like India. Bathing or washing with synthetic detergents (syndets) or mild liquid baby cleansers seems comparable with or even superior to water alone2. However, larger randomized clinical trials (RCTs) with age-defined cohorts of babies, as well as, more defined parameters are required to identify suitable practices and products for skin cleansing of healthy infants. These parameters can include standardized skin function parameters such as trans epidermal water loss (TEWL), stratum corneum hydration(SCH), skin surface pH, and sebum production with the help various instruments available to measure these parameters like corneometer, sebumeter etc.
Clinical skin scores such as the Neonatal Skin Condition Score may be employed as outcome measures.Children should be taught about the benefits of personal hygiene by parents, teachers and peers during formative years. Educating children on good hygiene is the best way to avoid the spread of infection and disorders, also teaching the principles of correct hygiene at an early age can help keep individuals healthy in later life. They have to be taught about basic personal hygiene such as hand washing and cleaning anogenital region, before enrolling into primary education.
Parents should always lead by example by practicing personal hygiene.2,3Skin care for adolescents: Onset of puberty brings about hyperhidrosis, bromhidrosis, acne, and seborrhea as a result of hormonal changes. Teenagers should be educated on personal hygiene. Boys need to know about nocturnal emission and morning bath. Girls have to educated about menstrual cycles, to use clean sanitary napkins, and to keep parts clean and dry.
Girls should be encouraged to tie their hair as a bun to prevent contracting head lice infestation. School going children are advised to bathe daily and take head bath every other day. Practicing personal hygiene may prevent fungal infection and scabies among adolescents.4Skin care among aged people: Ageing reduces barrier property of the skin. Patients need proper knowledge regarding bathing, drying and moisturizing.
Since elderly subjects already have dry skin with compromised barrier function, super fatted soaps or soap substitutes are strongly advocated. They should be trained to have quick bath, followed by gentle drying, and are advised to apply moisturizer immediately. Frequent application of moisturizer needs to be stressed upon.
Lotions are preferred during day time and ointment at bedtime, in the direction of hair to prevent folliculitis.5 While moisturizers work best when they are applied immediately after bath, caution is advised to prevent slipping in the bathroom. Liquid paraffin is hazardous near fire place like kitchen.
To conclude adopting basic hygienic practices boosts one’s self confidence, and also helps in prevention of acquiring infections and infestations. However, one should also be made aware of too much cleaning which can cause dry skin, resulting in irritation and contact dermatitis.