What Are the Basics of Personal Care and Hygiene?

Lori Kilchermann

Personal care and hygiene basics promote healthy living by helping to prevent the spread of disease, infection and illness. Looking and feeling good also promotes a positive self-image. The basics of personal care and hygiene vary somewhat between cultures in different areas of the world, but common components of a healthy lifestyle include basic cleanliness and consistent grooming.

Frequent hand washing is a cornerstone of proper hygiene.
Frequent hand washing is a cornerstone of proper hygiene.

Bathing or showering regularly is a primary step in personal care and hygiene. Hot or warm water, along with soap or body wash and a washcloth, should be used to bathe or freshen up between baths. It is important to towel-dry after a bath or shower in order to prevent rashes and chaffing. Applying deodorant to armpits after bathing and at least once a day at other times also will help to prevent sweating and odor.

Wearing deodorant can help reduce body odor and is usually considered part of good personal hygiene.
Wearing deodorant can help reduce body odor and is usually considered part of good personal hygiene.

Using dental floss, a toothbrush and toothpaste regularly can help promote oral hygiene. Many dentists recommend brushing at least twice a day. Mouthwash and teeth whiteners can also be used for fresh breath, a brighter smile and added dental benefits.

Many people choose to use body wash instead of soap for their personal hygiene.
Many people choose to use body wash instead of soap for their personal hygiene.

Hair care is a personal care and hygiene issue that needs to be addressed daily. Hair needs to be brushed, shampooed and cut regularly. Grease, dirt and product buildup can clog hair follicles and promote a habitat suitable for infections and parasites, such as lice. Brushing hair between shampooing helps to keep it clean and tangle-free, and timely haircuts will result in healthier hair and a more polished appearance.

Men typically use shaving cream to shave off their unwanted facial hair.
Men typically use shaving cream to shave off their unwanted facial hair.

Removal of body hair is often a matter of personal preference and culture. In many areas of the world, women remove the hair from their legs and armpits. Unwanted hairs can also be removed from other body parts, such as the nose, ears and chin. Some women also choose to thin bushy eyebrows, thick arm hair and unwanted mustache hairs. Razors, creams and bleaches can be used to remove or lessen the appearance of unwanted hair.

Hair should be brushed between shampooing.
Hair should be brushed between shampooing.

For men, beards, mustaches and sideburns all require routine maintenance, such as trimming, coloring or shaving. While many men opt to shave facial hair growth off every day for a clean-shaven appearance, others opt to let a mustache or beard grow uninhibited. Electric or manual razors, shaving cream and after-shave lotion are typically used by men for personal care and hygiene tasks.

It is important to practice good oral hygiene.
It is important to practice good oral hygiene.

To care for ears, the outer ear should be cleaned regularly with a cotton-tipped swab and heavy wax buildup should be removed by a medical professional. An important part of personal care and hygiene also includes regularly trimming toe nails and fingernails. To combat dry skin, moisturizer can be applied to the hands, face and body as needed.

Using toothpaste when brushing is a simple way to practice oral hygiene.
Using toothpaste when brushing is a simple way to practice oral hygiene.

Cleanliness of genital areas is important to prevent bacteria growth, odor and infections. Females and males should wash genitals regularly with a mild soap and warm water. It is also important to wipe the anus well after a bowel movement and to wash hands thoroughly afterward.

Shampoo should be used regularly to promote good personal hygiene.
Shampoo should be used regularly to promote good personal hygiene.

Maintaining an acceptable standard of personal care and hygiene also involves putting on clean, dry and weather-appropriate clothing every day. Some personal care and hygiene items that are routinely used, but are a matter of personal preference, include makeup, hair dye and nail polish. Hair spray, body powder and perfume are also grooming tools often used for personal care and hygiene.

After-shave spray is typically used by men for personal care.
After-shave spray is typically used by men for personal care.
Chewing gum can be used to help keep fresh breath.
Chewing gum can be used to help keep fresh breath.
Regular flossing is a basic part of oral hygiene.
Regular flossing is a basic part of oral hygiene.
Mouthwash is a basic part of oral hygiene.
Mouthwash is a basic part of oral hygiene.
A nail brush can be used to clean dirt and debris from the toenails and fingernails.
A nail brush can be used to clean dirt and debris from the toenails and fingernails.
Regular teeth brushing is important to kill oral bacteria.
Regular teeth brushing is important to kill oral bacteria.
Eyebrow grooming may be a part of personal care.
Eyebrow grooming may be a part of personal care.
A razor may be used for personal care and hygiene.
A razor may be used for personal care and hygiene.
Seeing a dentist regularly is key to maintaining a healthy, clean mouth.
Seeing a dentist regularly is key to maintaining a healthy, clean mouth.
Bathing is a basic part of hygiene.
Bathing is a basic part of hygiene.
Using a tissue when sneezing can help prevent the spread of germs.
Using a tissue when sneezing can help prevent the spread of germs.
Toilet paper is a personal care item.
Toilet paper is a personal care item.
Personal care can help minimize the occurrence of breakouts.
Personal care can help minimize the occurrence of breakouts.

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments

Fa5t3r

@Iluviaporos - I would advise people to remember that most of the opinions coming your way are from people who are trying to sell something to you. And they simply can't be trusted not to bend the truth, if not outright lie.

The industry doesn't gain anything from that study about mouthwash, which is why I'm more inclined to trust it, but if you learn how to understand science findings you can start figuring out for yourself which claims are real and which aren't.

There's also the question about how much people really need to be using all these cleaners and moisturizers and things in the first place. It must add a lot of unnecessary pollution to the waterways when it all gets washed down the sink.

Not that you can go without some of it in modern society, but I'm not sure most of it is strictly necessary.

lluviaporos

@umbra21 - I feel like sometimes it can be really tricky to figure out what the best thing to do is regarding personal care and hygiene, since there are so many different opinions. Mouthwash for example, was touted as essential for quite a few years and I always felt guilty whenever I didn't use it regularly (even though I never got used to it and always disliked it). Then a couple of years ago they discovered that it was linked to mouth cancer because it contained alcohol.

Admittedly, that gives me the excuse I needed to stop using it altogether, but I can't help but wonder if they are going to discover that you should use it again next week.

umbra21

Regarding the ears, it's best to try and avoid using Q-tips if you can, since they tend to push wax deeper into the ear canal as they "clean" it. My sister is an audiologist and she's always complaining about people doing this, because eventually the wax becomes compacted and you have to take more extreme lengths to get it out.

According to her, the best thing to do is to put a couple of drops of olive oil into the ear and let it slide out naturally. Mostly ears won't need much cleaning though, unless you're genetically inclined to wax build-up, in which case you might need to get to know your local audiologist well.

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register: