Since we were young, most of us have been taught all about personal hygiene habits. Everything from brushing your teeth, putting on clean clothes, taking a bath, and washing your hands before eating are taught at a very early age. These habits become a normal part of life, but it doesn't end there.
In fact, adults continue to become more hygiene conscious as a step towards healthy and disease-free living. However, when it comes to personal hygiene, many of us are making common hygiene mistakes and don't even realize it. No matter how clean you think you are, a few noteworthy habits might be doing more harm than good.
Here are 10 personal hygiene mistakes you need to stop making.
It's very important to cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing in order to prevent germs from spreading everywhere. But sadly, a surprisingly high percentage of people do not follow this hygienic habit. According to a 2010 survey by the American Society for Microbiology, approximately one out of every four people observed in a public environment failed to cover their mouth when coughing or sneezing. This observation was carried out in three public areas - a train station, a hospital, and a shopping mall - in Wellington, New Zealand.
Covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing isn't just good manners, but it also helps prevent outbreaks of infectious diseases. When sick, it's best to stay at home so that your germs don't spread to other people. However, if you must go out, cover your mouth with a handkerchief or your elbow when coughing or sneezing.
2. Not Washing Your Hands after Using the Washroom
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, washing your hands is one of the most effective ways to avoid getting yourself or others sick. However, many people skip hand washing, especially after using the restroom. Even people who do wash their hands might not be doing it properly.
A study from 2013, published in the Journal of Environmental Health, analyzed 3,749 people's post-toilet patterns and found that 10% skipped the sink, 33% skipped the soap, and nearly everyone else didn't lather long enough. Whether you're using the toilet at home or in public, wash your hands with soap and water. However, it's better not to use antibacterial soaps, as they cause the world more harm than good.
3. Not Taking Care of Your Toothbrush
When it comes to oral health, how you look after your toothbrush matters a lot. Most of us have the habit of rinsing our toothbrush after each use, but after that we put it away it's still wet. This is a common hygiene mistake you may also be making.
A damp toothbrush is a breeding ground for bacteria, and the next time you use it, you're putting more bacteria into your mouth, which can cause bad breath and gum disease. After rinsing your toothbrush, shake off the extra water and store it in a brush holder with a cap that allows it to dry. From time to time, place your toothbrush in the sun, allowing it to dry out.
Always replace your toothbrush every three months.
You have probably been taught since childhood to use cotton swabs to clean your ears so that there's no build up of wax. Well, as it turns out, wax isn't that bad for you.
The wax in your ears prevents ear infections and also prevents foreign particles such as dust and small insects from entering the ear canal. Furthermore, using a cotton swab can be harmful as it pushes the wax deeper into the ear canal and damages the ear drum. If you have a buildup of wax in your ears, get it removed by a doctor.
5. Avoiding Post-Gym Showering
Exercising is a great way to stay fit and get in shape. If you exercise at home or in the gym, you're following a good habit. However, if you're not showering after a workout, you're making a big mistake. There are many benefits to a post-workout shower. Firstly, it will make your body smell nice by getting rid of sweat. Secondly, it will take care of the perspiration left behind on your skin that allows bacteria to grow, which in turn can lead to rashes and breakouts.
Furthermore, a warm shower right after working out will encourage smooth blood flow throughout your body, giving your skin a healthy glow and alleviating any muscle soreness. So, no matter how late you are after your exercise, go for a quick shower.
6. Excessively Bathing and Hand Washing
Whether its bathing or hand washing, it can do more harm than good if done excessively. Taking a daily bath or shower is great for removing dirt, bacteria, and sweat from your body, but overdoing it could lead to skin irritation and infection. In fact, bathing too much is just as bad as not bathing enough.
A study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in 2014, shows that early exposure to bacteria and allergens may help build up a strong immunity. The study reports that having an overly clean environment increases the risk of developing eczema and asthma. Similarly, excessive hand washing can lead to dry, cracked skin, which increases the chances of bacteria entering the body and causing infection.
7. Not Cleaning Commonly Used Household Objects
No matter how much you keep your house nice and clean, if you're not cleaning used household objects, such as remote controls, keyboards, doorknobs, smartphones, laptops, and showerheads, you're not doing your job properly.
A 2013 project carried out at the University of Surrey illustrated exceptionally well how cell phones are a breeding ground for germs. Make sure to frequently clean these common household items in order to get rid of the gross bacteria and germs that are living on them. This is a major step towards protecting yourself and your family from infection.
Adults should be aware that not everything was made to be flushed down the toilet. This is true with sanitary napkins and tampons. But this is another hygiene mistakes that many females are commonly making. No matter how toilet-safe a product claims to be, stop flushing your tampons and sanitary pads as they can completely clog the drainage system.
Just dumping them into the trash isn't very hygienic either. They can become a breeding ground for disease-causing bacteria, which can infect humans and pets, as well as leave behind a foul smell. Therefore, take a moment to wrap your tampon or pad with a sheet of paper before disposing it in the trash. Also, make sure the trash can gets emptied on a daily basis.
9. Not Flossing Your Teeth
Flossing may seem like a chore, but it's an important oral hygiene step that you must not skip. If you don't floss at least once a day, it can lead to growth of bacteria inside your mouth and eventually cause problems with your gums. Even if you brush regularly, flossing helps keep your gums healthy by getting rid of bacteria beneath the gumline and preventing gingivitis, bad breath and gum recession.
While flossing once and brushing twice a day is ideal, doing more than this can actually harm your teeth and gums. It can lead to gumline recession as well as accelerated erosion of the dental enamel protecting your teeth. So don't overdo it.
10. Exfoliating Your Skin Too Often
Exfoliation is a brilliant way to remove dead skin cells and reveal the glowing, living cellular layer beneath. However, when done in excess, you're committing a big mistake for your skin's health.
Exfoliating every day can irritate sensitive and acne-prone skin by stripping it of its natural oils, which can cause breakouts. Also, it can make your face look redder by causing tiny tears in the skin. Therefore, make sure to exfoliate only 2-3 times a week if you have normal skin, and only once a week if you have sensitive skin.