While practicing personal hygiene is important in your social life, it is essential in preventing the development and spread of infections and illnesses. Daily bathing and proper hand washing are your best weapons against attacking virus, bacteria, fungus and parasites.
Urinary Tract Infection
Most often, urinary tract infections are caused by Escherichia coli. This bacterium normally lives in your intestines. If it gets into your urethra, it will travel to your bladder and kidneys causing pain, fever and difficult urination. It’s very important to wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol jelly after using the toilet to reduce the chance of infecting yourself or others with E. coli.
Boils are skin infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus. Staph bacteria live on your skin. If allowed to accumulate, they can enter under your skin through a hair follicle, or through a cut or puncture. S. aureus can cause pus-filled abscesses that your doctor will have to drain and treat with antibiotics. Shower and wash your hands often to decrease the amount of S. aureus bacteria, and your chances of infection.
Ringworm is not caused by a worm. It is an infection caused by mold-like fungi organisms that infect the layers of your skin. It is an itchy, scaly rash that looks like a ring with clear skin in the middle. Ringworm is spread by contact with infected persons, animals or soil. You can prevent it by washing well after handling pets or gardening, and by showering after participating in contact sports.
Body lice are insects that live and lay eggs in bedding and clothing, and crawl onto your skin several times a day to feed on your blood. They usually bite your armpits, groin and waist, where they can easily crawl from clothing to your skin. To prevent body lice, bathe and change clothing regularly. Machine wash bedding and clothing in hot water of at least 130 degrees, and dry the items in the high-heat drying cycle. Do not share bedding or clothing, or come in contact with infected persons.
When to Wash
According to the Mayo Clinic, washing your hands is the best way to prevent illness to yourself and others. Bacteria accumulate during the day as you touch surfaces and people. Wash your hands with soap and water and scrub vigorously for at least 20 seconds. Do this before preparing food, eating or inserting contact lenses. Also, wash well after handling garbage, blowing your nose, coughing on your hands or using the toilet.