The Importance of Good Hygiene for Skin Health | Biodermis

The Importance of Good Hygiene for Skin Health |

It’s well known within the dermatologic and skin care communities that maintaining proper hygiene isn’t only good for your overall health; it’s good for your skin as well. This is especially true if you have a weak immune system or if you have recently sustained a wound that is still in the healing process. The skin as an organ functions really well by protecting us against environmental dangers and pathogens like bacteria, viruses, and fungi. However, our skin wouldn’t work as effectively if we didn’t take proper daily measures like bathing, hand-washing, and moisturizing. It’s important to be hygiene conscious not only for your own well-being, but for the community at large.

Continue reading to learn more about how to maintain proper hygiene and how it relates to skin health.

Skin hygiene and related problems

Hand washing with running water and chlorine was first discovered as an effective method for preventing infection and the spread of disease during the mid-1800s. It was discovered after a Hungarian doctor noticed many of the mothers giving birth in the maternity ward at his hospital were contracting fevers and dying. The doctor noticed that many of the other doctors and medical students were delivering babies right after performing an autopsy, raising sanitary concerns. After the mandatory handwashing rule was imposed, the fevers subsided. Unfortunately, handwashing didn’t become a mainstream practice among healthcare professional until the 1980s when a number of food-borne illnesses and infections incited public concern in the United States. This is when the Center for Disease Control (CDC) identified hand-washing as a necessary measure for good hygiene and the prevention of the spreading of disease.

Nowadays, we have a much better understanding of how germs and illnesses spread and most people have access to running water and soap. Because many types of germs and pathogens live on surfaces, it’s no wonder that our skin is a perfect breeding ground for these microbes. One very common type of skin infection that practically everyone experiences in his or her lifetime is acne. Acne is caused by pores in the skin that become clogged by oil (sebum), dead skin cells, and bacteria. A common practice to help allay the symptoms of acne and clear the skin is to frequently wash the face, back, and shoulders—areas where acne commonly form. To prevent the spread of acne, it’s advised not to touch or scratch your face/shoulders throughout the day because germs can live underneath fingernails.

Fungal infections are another common type of infection that people frequently contract. Athlete’s foot is fungal infection that affects more than 3 million US cases a year. Athlete’s foot usually begins between the toes and is caused by sweaty feet confined within tightly-fitting shoes. Anyone can contract athlete’s foot, but it is most commonly seen with athletes and other highly active people. Ringworm is another fungal skin infection that affects just as many people as athlete’s foot. Ringworm is marked by an itchy, scaly rash that may appear red. This infection is caused by common mold-like parasites that reside on the surface of the skin. Ringworm is highly contagious and spreads by skin-to-skin contact with an animal or another person. Maintaining good hygiene and bathing daily is a good way to reduce the risk of contracting most fungal infections.

It’s especially important to maintain clean skin and hygiene if you have an open wound. Wounds are vulnerable to infection if proper sanitation and hygiene measures aren’t observed. If a wound becomes infected, it can take much longer for the healing process to culminate and the risk for hypertophic and keloid scars increases. You can prevent wound infection by gently washing your wound with soap and running water. After the wound is cleaned, it should be patted dry and covered with an antibacterial ointment and bandage. Some wounds will always lead to scarring, but if you take follow proper wound cleaning techniques, you will have a much more seamless wound healing experience.

Given what we know about germs and illness today, proper hygiene should be an aspect of daily life for everyone who has access to soap and water. Not only is good hygiene good for our own well-being, it’s for the well-being of others around you.

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