HCFI PHM Consensus statement: Good personal hygiene is key to preventing infectious diseases
Dr KK Aggarwal, 28 October 2019
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- Personal hygiene involves behaviors and practices to maintain good health and prevent infectious diseases.
- Nail hygiene, bathing, hand hygiene, oral hygiene, shoe hygiene are some of the important components of personal hygiene.
- Hand hygiene is a simple and inexpensive method to reduce transmission of microorganisms. It is an integral part of infection control practices in healthcare.
- “WHO 5 moments for hand hygiene”: Health-care workers should clean their hands: Before touching a patient, before clean/aseptic procedures, after body fluid exposure/risk, after touching a patient and after touching patient surroundings
- Use good quality soap with total fatty matter (TFM) above 76%, enriched with glycerine for moisturizing, for effective handwashing.
- Respiratory hygiene: Keep a distance of minimum 3-6 ft, from a person who is coughing, sneezing or singing to prevent cross infection, specifically, from flu. Most respiratory particles are more than 5 microns in size (except tuberculosis droplet nuclei) and do not travel a distance of more than 3 ft.
- Cough hygiene: Cough on your sleeves or tissue paper (and discard it immediately) and not in hands and handkerchief. Wash hands with soap and water after coughing or sneezing or use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Food hygiene: Maintain hygiene at home while cutting vegetables and serving and eating food to prevent contamination of food. Follow the formula of ‘boil it, heat it, peel it, cook it or forget it’.
- Fabric hygiene: Clothes should be visibly and also hygienically clean. Choose a quality laundry detergent to wash clothes.
- Water hygiene: Drink safe water and wash glasses properly. Do not pick up four glasses of water at the same time with one finger in each glass.
- Nail hygiene: Keep nails short. Avoid biting and chewing nails. Scrub the underside of nails with soap or water each time you wash your hands.
- Shoe hygiene: Avoid poorly fitting shoes; the selected shoe should be wider than broadest part of the foot. Preferably buy shoes in the evening as the foot swells up by evening.
- Sleep hygiene: Go to bed when you are ready to sleep. Get up at the same time every day. Avoid caffeinated products close to bedtime. Light from cell phones, computers, TV, tablets etc. disturbs sleep; remove these from the bedroom. Try meditation, deep breathing, or progressive muscle relaxation to calm the mind and relax the muscles, if you are anxious and unable to sleep.