Personal hygiene encompasses all of the daily routines that help keep your body clean. This includes regular healthy habits of brushing your teeth, washing your hair, washing your hands, cleaning your body with soap and water, wearing deodorant when possible and keeping your clothing clean. When people don't learn these habits, or they become overlooked, certain consequences may develop ranging from social problems to potentially serious diseases.
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One of the first and most prominent consequences of bad hygiene is body odor. Body occurs due to the interaction of bacteria and sweat produced by the apocrine glands. As bacteria thrive in unwashed sweat, over time their byproducts produce the smell commonly associated with body odor. Body odor may also come from poor bathroom habits, resulting in feces or urine odor.
Bad breath proves another easily recognizable consequence of poor hygiene. It commonly develops from not regularly brushing and flossing your teeth. Bad breath results because of two main reasons. First, bacteria thrive on particles of food that can stick to your teeth. As the bacteria digest this food, their byproduct results in odor. Food can also get stuck in your teeth and rot over time, producing a foul odor, according to the American Dental Association.
Not only can poor dental hygiene lead to bad breath, it can also lead to dental disease. As you allow food particles and bacteria to build up on the teeth, a coating called plaque begins to form. The bacteria in this plaque release acids, which break down the enamel on your teeth. As this process continues over time, a hard substance called calculus can form on the teeth, irritating the surrounding gums. This irritation can progress into gingivitis, leading to inflammation of the gums, which can later lead to gum disease. Gum disease causes infection, and eventually may destroy your teeth.
Hygiene practices, such as washing your hands, prove the most effective ways to prevent contracting disease and spreading disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Your hands are in constant contact with both the environment and your face, providing easy transportation from the surface of an infected object or person to your nose or mouth. Washing your hands with clean running water and soap helps reduce the amount of bacteria on your skin, lessening your chance of contracting diseases such as the common cold, influenza (flu), salmonellosis, hepatitis A, typhoid, streptococcus and staph infections.
Men and women have unique hygiene needs that if ignored may lead to health problems. For example, men who have an uncircumcised penis need to regularly retract the foreskin and clean beneath to prevent inflammation, phimosis (where the penis cannot fully retract from the foreskin), or penile adhesions. Women must take care to keep the genitalia clean, and always wipe from front to back after using the restroom to prevent introducing infections from the rectum to the urethra.