Tel: 0345 644 8955 (TPS Registered)

The Importance of Good Personal Hygiene

Recently one of our clients asked us to provide some guidelines on good personal hygiene in the workplace so in this hot weather our thoughts turned to the sorts of things that might need to be considered. This week's guest blog dealing with the subject of personal hygiene comes from Jo Johnson.

Maintaining personal hygiene is necessary for many reasons; personal, social, health, psychological or simply as a way of life. Keeping a good standard of hygiene helps to prevent the development and spread of infections, illnesses and bad odours. Most people are very conscious of personal hygiene because:

  • We're taught of the importance of hygiene from an early age
  • We may have been "picked-on" at school for a one-off or a peristent hygiene problem. This may even have been an issue mistakenly related to hygiene by others - such as head lice
  • It is considered a way of making ourselves more attractive to the opposite sex
  • It is off-putting to our friends and colleagues if we smell unpleasant etc.
  • We're aware of health problems that can develop as a result of poor personal hygiene

Which Bits to Focus On and How?

Think about each area individually and why hygiene is important (for health reasons as well as appearance). Hair and teeth are good places to start, together with those areas of the body that might smell or which are more prone to fungal/bacterial infections.

1. Hair

Dirty head hair does not actually cause many health problems; it's mostly for appearance factor that keeping hair clean is a good idea. Greasy hair - At some points of your life - especially in teenage years and at times of hormonal change, hair can become greasy more easily. There's really only one solution to greasy hair and that is to wash it, although some people find dry shampoo or talc helps to absorb some of the grease. If you're lucky enough to have hair long enough to tie up then you can miss a wash occasionally - those with natural blonde hair will find grease shows up more than on brunettes - it has to have some draw backs!

Dandruff - If you suffer from dandruff, try the various shampoos available. If it's serious there are some medical treaments available that are not harmful to the skin - those containing zinc pyritheone or selenium sulphide are said to be the most effective.

Head lice - Head lice are highly contagious. If left unattended, the lice grow large enough that you can actually see them moving(!) and the white eggs (nits) are also sometimes visible. You may also - but not always - experience itching. The best way to avoid persistent head lice is to wash your hair, leave a conditioner in and comb through with a fine tooth comb. Do this at least once a week, then even if a couple of lice manage to find their way to your lovely locks, they will not be given the chance to lay eggs and multiply!

2. Teeth and Mouth

Teeth - A beautiful smile can make a person's day - but if teeth are grubby or breath is smelly, it has an entirely different result. Brush your teeth twice daily with a decent toothbrush (powered ones are best),a fluoride based toothpaste and an antibacterial mouthwash and you can't go far wrong. If you think your teeth are not white enough, try wearing different colours to make them seem brighter, avoid drinks such as tea, coffee and red wine, which are thought to stain them. If you're still convinced they're not white enough ask your dentist about treatments.

Smelly breath - Sometimes, despite good brushing a tooth will succomb to decay - if left untreated this can spread and infect your gums. Bad breath can be the sign of a gum infection. Make sure you vist your dentist regularly to keep a check on it. Halitosis (bad breath) can also be a result of dehydration or an empty stomach, so eat and drink regularly.

3. Areas Prone to Odour and Fungal Infection

Unpleasant smells and fungal infections are most commonly experienced in areas of the body that are warm and not often exposed to fresh air: the feet; the genitals and some of our sweat glands.

Smelly Feet - The feet contain lots of sweat glands. If feet are confined in socks and shoes the sweat has nowhere to 'evaporate' and the skin bacteria will in effect attack to, causing that pungent'cheesy' aroma. There's a variety of reasons why some people suffer more than others.

Here are some measures you can take to minimise smelly feet:

  • Wash regularly and dry thoroughly with a soft towel and an anti-bacterial foot powder or a baby talc
  • Allow feet to air when feasible and wear open shoes as much as possible
  • Change socks more than once a day if needed and make sure they are cotton or other breathable fabric

Athlete's foot - Athlete's foot is a fungal infection that causes itching, flaky skin and sometimes a sore, red rash. It's highly contagious and can be unsightly. There are plenty of products available to combat athlete's foot, but you should check with your pharmacist or GP if you are taking any other medicines, have certain medical conditions, or are buying for a child as some of the treatments contain steroids.

Genital Areas - Genital areas can be prone to bacterial infections and unpleasant aromas if not kept clean. Conversely though, too much cleaning with scented products or soaps can cause thrush - a bacterial infection. The best hygiene for all the genital ares is to clean once or twice a day using mild soap and water.

For more information go to www.hygieneexpert.co.uk

This article has been reproduced here with the permission of the author.

Russell HR Consulting provides expert knowledge in HR solutions, employment law training and HR tools and resources to businesses across the UK.

Subscribe to our free monthly HR newsletter. Russell HR Consulting employment law newsletters are emailed automatically to our ever-growing number of subscribers every month.

Got any HR queries?

Contact us