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by  Chioma Chiekezie


Before we look at what personal hygiene entails and its vitality to our environment, we have to understand the context “HYGIENE”. The word Hygiene comes from the name of the Greek goddess of health –HYGIEIA. Hygiene is a scientific study that deals with the preservation of health and it is also known as the practice or principles of cleanliness. Hygiene relates to medicine, as well as personal and professional care practices which relates to most aspect of living. In the manufacture of food, pharmaceutical, cosmetic and other products, good hygiene is a key part of quality assurance i.e ensuring that the product complies with microbial specifications appropriate to its use. Hygiene practices varies from one culture to another. Therefore, the term hygiene should be part of our daily routine in life and one of the most effective ways we have to protect ourselves and others from illness. What then does personal hygiene means and what does it entail?

PERSONAL HYGIENE: is the act of maintaining cleanliness and grooming of the external body. The importance of hygiene since the creation of man has been known for thousands of years. What is considered to be proper personal hygiene varies widely from one culture to another. For example, the ancient Greeks spent many hours bathing, using fragrances and make up in an effort to beautify themselves and be presentable to others. Personal hygiene practices include: washing hands regularly(before eating & after eating, after going to the toilets), wearing clean clothes, brushing your teeth, cutting your finger nails with a nail cutter, covering your mouth when sneezing or coughing e.t.c. Maintaining a high level of personal hygiene increases self-esteem and confidence, while minimizing the chances of developing imperfection.

Poor personal hygiene and maintaining a low standard of personal hygiene can result to high risk of infection and illnesses and also cause many social issues to arise as a result of odours and appearance in the life of an individual. For instance; the success of job application or the chance of promotion, no firm on earth would want to be represented by someone who  cannot take care of him or herself, as many people would rather distant themselves from someone who has bad personal hygiene than to tell them how they could improve. Hence, the following could result due to poor personal hygiene: Body odour, Bad breath, social discrimination, social embarrassment etc.


Lets take a look at body odour as a case study of a poor personal hygiene.

Body odour: Everybody sweats because perspiration is the body’s biological way of cooling down. Therefore, Body odour (BO)  is said to be an unpleasant smell which the body gives off when bacteria that lives on the skin breaks down sweat into aromatic fatty acids, lack of hygiene, or a physical disorder. The sweat produced by humans is virtually odourless but the multiplication of bacteria in the presence of the sweat and their activities is what causes the unpleasant smell. What you perceive is the products related to the bacteria breakdown of keratin protein on the surface of the skin. Body odour is usually noticed in human at the age of puberty (14-16) years of age for female and (15-17) for male. It is also noticed in those suffering from obesity, diabetes, medical conditions such as thyroid disease and carcinoid syndrome, some medicines e.g antidepressants can cause excessive sweating which tends to lead to body odour.

The picture above shows the skin and how sweat is released to the surface.

It is very important to note that body smells does not only occur through sweat but could also occur due to the following factors:

  • Wastes excreted through the skin, such as metabolized alcohol.
  • Chemicals in sweat, including pheromones, made by the body.
  • Unwashed clothes, such as underwear and socks.



In order to practice good hygiene, it’s important to know that excessive sweating, insufficient bathing or poor hygiene can lead to an unpleasant odour secreted by the apocrine glands, located in the underarms, genitals, and around the nipples, and the eccrine glands, found in the underarms, hands, and feet, when they interact with skin bacteria. The sebaceous glands, located in the scalp, face, and chest, produce oil, which has a light odour with or without bacteria. People without proper hygiene tends to have a lot of bacteria built up on their skin, thus exhibiting more than just bad odour that can affect ones confidence and self-esteem. Body odour problem can usually be managed by getting rid of excess skin bacteria which are responsible for the smell and keeping the skin in the affected area clean and dry.

Hence, the following can be done to prevent or manage body odour:


  • Take a warm bath or shower every day to kill the bacteria on your skin. On hot days, you may need to have a bath or shower twice a day.
  • Wash your armpits thoroughly using an antibacterial soap.
  • Hairs easily absorbs odours and this can slow down the evaporation of heat, therefore, always Shave your armpit regularly to avoid bacteria been trapped in the hairs under your armpit because lots of hairs under your arm creates a swampy environment for bacteria to thrive.
  • Wear natural fibers, such as wool, silk or cotton. They allow your skin to breathe, which means your sweat will evaporate quicker.
  • Wear clean clothes, and wash them regularly.
  • Limit the amount of spicy foods you eat, such as curry or garlic, because they can make your sweat smell. Consume less of red meat because researches has shown that high consumption of it tends to make body odour worse.
  • The feet produces one of the foulest odours so, regular change of foot wears allows air into them, thus, preventing odours from staying concentrated in one area. This reduces the amount of bacteria in the shoes.




  • Many deodorants and antiperspirants are made with aluminium chloride as the active ingredients because it helps to prevent the production of sweat, and this aluminium is suspected of accumulating in the nervous system and ultimately contributing to nervous system disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, so go for natural, aluminium free deodorants or antiperspirant. Deodorants work by using perfume to mask the smell of sweat. The use of tea tree oil is also advised as natural sterilizers that can be applied on your armpits, since they are known to be natural antiseptics. They help lower the skin’s pH level, which makes it impossible for bacteria to survive. For those who are prone to sweat, always make use of wipes to clean off sweat from your armpit at least 4 times a day.



    About 5% of people suffering from body odor find it hard to digest particular foods because of enzyme deficiencies or digestive problems. It is recommended that such

Persons should take a probiotic supplement, as this will help boost intestinal flora quality and also take digestive enzyme together with meals. Apple cider vinegar can also be effective in aiding digestion.



Add a wheat grass or chlorophyll supplement to your daily vitamin routine. Such supplements act as natural deodorizers and can help keep you smelling nice, according to Columbia University’s Health Services.

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