Healthy Hygiene Habits You Should Definitely Keep Practicing
The ongoing pandemic has people thinking about healthy hygiene in many ways they haven’t before. Four months ago, the person standing two feet behind you in the grocery store wouldn’t have made you anxious. Putting a mask on to go outside was the exception, not the rule. While some of the habits we’re adopting are pandemic-specific, experts say there are certain public health measures we should have been practicing all along.
What this whole COVID-19 response has really shown us is that there’s this strong link between these individual actions and the community’s health. When we’re all being asked to stay at home, that individual action is a little bit more impactful on our day-to-day life and we’re able to see more clearly how your actions impact the community.
Social distancing is more imperative than ever, especially if you have traveled or has a risk of being exposed to any flu, cold, illness, bacteria or viruses. Many of the recommendations we’re hearing about now are the same as those public health officials give year after year. These are the actions we should be following with or without a pandemic.
Healthy hygiene habits we should have been doing all along especially during a pandemic:
- Wear a face mask when you’re sick
The recommendations may shift to having people who are sick wear masks. However, we started to see that particularly since H1N1—when you go to your doctor’s office, they’ll typically have a supply of masks and ask people who are symptomatic and asymptomatic to wear them. Certainly the mask is most effective for keeping people from spreading to people who are not yet sick. And so I think we’ll continue to see greater uptake in that as a precaution during an outbreak season.
- Thoroughly and frequently wash your hands
Everyday we put out messages about handwashing and every time there’s an outbreak we put out messages about handwashing. Something like this happens, and people act like it’s the first time they’ve heard that they need to wash their hands, which is kind of concerning.
A position paper published in April in the American Journal of Infection Control says that proper handwashing cuts down the need for antibiotics. We have clean water, we have the ability to wash our hands—those go a long way to reducing and reducing disease. When we can reduce new infections, we won’t need to treat them with antibiotics. This can in turn reduce the rate and speed of antibiotic resistance. Bacteria naturally mutate over time and develop antibiotic-resistant traits. These traits will build up in the population of bacteria. The less we need to treat people with antibiotics, the less pressure there is for those bacteria to develop those resistant traits, and the longer we’ll be able to use those antibiotics that we have.
- Stay home and quarantine yourself when you’re exposed to risk or when you’re sick
COVID-19 is changing the way we think of sick days. You’ve got a couple of groups of people who tend to stay home when sick and probably most important are the people who don’t have any sick leave and so if they’re not at work, then they’re foregoing pay. But then they are also the people who just prioritize work and think that you should sort of power through even if you’re sick. And that’s really not doing any of us any favors. However most people are working because it is their only source of income and their selfish company policies do not cover their employee’s safety.
So, authorities, companies and government officials need to make sure that there are policies that can protect the community that would benefit both in the long run such as working from home, salary cut instead of firing and make sure that people with risk stays home and quarantine themselves.
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing
It’s definitely one of those things that we should be more aware of, that we’ve been trained on forever—but clearly we’re not doing a good job on that. Covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing may help prevent those around you from getting sick. It recommends covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and then throwing that used tissues in the trash. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands. Immediately wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your face
Germs are often spread when you touch something that is contaminated with germs and then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. A 2015 study examined 26 medical students found that they touched their faces, on average, 23 times per hour. Of all face touches, 44 percent involved contact with the eyes, nose, and-or mouth. And that’s in a medical setting where you would think that you would be aware that infection control was an issue and even if you’re wearing gloves, she says you still shouldn’t touch your face.
Touching your face is also an issue if you’re prone to acne. One of the worst beauty habits you can have is touching your face during the day. On a regular basis we are touching everything from doorknobs to our cell phones. Dirt, oil, and bacteria build up on our fingertips, which translates to skin problems if you’re touching your face.