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Personal hygiene is described as the principle of ensuring and maintaining cleanliness and care of the external body.

The benefits of good hygiene:

  • Increased self-esteem and confidence;
  • Projecting a positive body image;
  • Helps reduce unpleasant body odours;
  • Helps reduce the risks of infection and pain.

The Risks of Poor Hygiene:

  • Social embarrassment;
  • Rejection and isolation;
  • Increased risk of getting an infection or an illness

Hand Hygiene:

  • Hand washing is vital. This should be carried out after using the toilet, after handling anything potentially hazardous, before preparing food, before eating, and before and after having sex.
  • When washing your hands try using warm water and a good soap. Wet your hands thoroughly and apply soap and work into a soapy lather. With a repetitive motion continue hand washing (over the back of your hands, across your palms, in between your fingers, around your nails, and even around your wrists) until you are thoroughly satisfied they are clean (which is usually the duration of singing ‘Happy Birthday to you’ in your head). Rinse and dry thoroughly using a clean dry towel.
  • Keep your nails short and clean.
  • Treat any cuts or open sores immediately.
  • A latex glove is very handy when engaging in any sexual activity (e.g., finger fucking).
  • In cases where water is not readily available consider using a anti-bacterial wet wipe.

Oral Hygiene:

  • Bad breath (or halitosis) is most commonly caused from poor dental hygiene (e.g., wrong technique used to brush teeth, don’t floss, irregular visits to the dentist etc). Bad breath can also be caused by eating highly aromatic foods such as onions and garlic or in cases where food intake has been severely restricted. Dehydration can cause bad breath, while drinking alcohol can lead to bad breath and body odour. And lastly, smoking, chronic sinus problems and gum disease may also lead to bad breath. Resolving any of these causes is likely to result in a dramatic improvement.
  • In general, teeth should be brushed at least twice a day, followed by some flossing. You could also floss after every meal. Remember to also brush your tongue as this will remove any buildup of bacteria and/or dead cells.
  • You should avoid brushing your teeth before or after engaging in any oral sexual activity as this may cause the gums to bleed, increasing your risk of infection. Rinse with a mouth wash or chew some gum instead.
  • Replace your toothbrush approximately every three months.
  • Keep well hydrated, by drinking at least 6 – 8 glasses of water per day, which is actually good for your overall health.
  • Go to your oral hygienist/dentist for a check-up and clean-up at least twice a year.

Genital Hygiene:

  • The penis and scrotal area should only need proper washing once a day.
  • No attempt should be made to clean the inside of the urethra (e.g., using an earbud). Cleaning is only concentrated on the outside of the penis.
  • Uncircumcised men should take special care to clean the head of the penis, by gently pulling back the foreskin and rinsing the head. Failure to do so may result in buildup of smegma (aka cheese), causing bad odours and an increased risk of infection. If your foreskin is too tight to retract then it is important that you consult your doctor.
  • Circumcised men can simply rinse the head as normal.
  • Gentle genital cleaning should also be done after sex, even if a condom was used. This is to prevent bacterial buildup and unpleasant smells arising.
  • Wearing loose fitting cotton underwear can reduce the possibility of perspiration buildup and subsequent aromas.
  • Do not apply aftershaves and /or deodorants directly to the genital area.

Anal Hygiene:

  • The anus should only need proper washing once a day and then appropriate cleaning after every bowel movement.
  • Not cleaning after defecation (aka shitting or taking a dump) can lead to irritation of the surrounding skin, bad odour, the transmission of a wide range of STIs (e.g., Hepatitis A etc).
  • Although hygiene is very important, over-cleaning (using harsh internal cleansing products) and over-wiping (using course toilet paper) is not desirable as this may lead to irritation and in some cases bleeding.
  • When cleaning use a soft ‘two-ply’ toilet paper, or if possible, use a pre-moistened, non-perfumed adult wipe.
  • Anal douching is the practice of introducing water slowly and gently into the anus in order to clean out the rectum. This has been suggested as a possible method but there are associated risks to this practice: it can lead to damage of the rectum and can actually increase the risk of contracting an STI.
  • When sex toys are used, these should be cleaned in between uses, even if new condoms are used each time. This is especially important if sex toys are shared.

Body Odour:

  • Body odour develops from a buildup of perspiration generally in the groin, armpit and feet. Exercising and hot weather can contribute to this. Perspiration is not preventable but body odour can be controlled.
  • Frequent washing can help reduce the development of body odour. For most, one wash a day may be adequate. For others, two to three washes a day may be required. Ensure that you dry yourself thoroughly to avoid reservoirs for bacteria to breed in.
  • Wearing clean underwear, socks and clothes every day can also help reduce body odour and reduce risks of infection and soreness.
  • The moderate use of anti-perspirant deodorants can help reduce odours developing in the armpits. The key here is moderate, as you don’t want to appear to have been doused in chemicals as this is also unappealing.
  • The removal of excess hair can help reduce the area on which bacteria can breed and odours developing.
  • In cases of severe perspiration, medical treatment may be sought (e.g., trans-thoracic sympathectomy or botox injections into the armpit).