Personal hygiene

Personal hygiene is the understanding by the individuals of how infections can be transmitted to them or others by unclean habits, and using appropriate methods to avoid them. Infection can be avoided by preventing bad habits (e.g. promiscuous defecation) or introducing good habits (e.g. hand-washing before eating). Infections that can be reduced by personal hygiene are shown in Table 3.3.

Category 1 diseases are reduced by washing of the body and clothing with water, which is best heated and with the addition of soap if available. Categories 2

and 3 diseases are reduced by rigorous hand-washing after defecation and before eating.

Personal hygiene is closely related to the availability of water in sufficient quantity. Water quality is of less importance. Washing is improved by using warm water and soap. Soap reduces surface tension and emulsifies oils, allowing bacteria to be more easily removed. However, large quantities of water can still be effective in the absence of soap.

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