Are Your Hygiene Habits Hurting Your Health?

mother teaching toddler how to wash hands

The basics of personal hygiene usually don’t require explanation. They are considered healthy habits that are important for daily practice. But are all your habits actually good for you?

Some parts of your hygiene routine might be doing more harm to your skin and body than good. Knowing what these are and what actions you should take to adopt better practices will lead you to a healthier lifestyle.

The basics of personal hygiene usually don’t require explanation. They are considered healthy habits that are important for daily practice. But are all your habits actually good for you?

Some parts of your hygiene routine might be doing more harm to your skin and body than good. Knowing what these are and what actions you should take to adopt better practices will lead you to a healthier lifestyle.

Using Products with Parabens

Parabens are found in the most popular skin and body products on the market. They are deemed safe for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and have been proven effective in preventing the growth of germs and bacteria in products. Why, then, are they a cause for concern?

Firstly, parabens are xenoestrogens. They imitate the structure of estrogen and can then disrupt the hormonal balance of the body, which affects pregnancy and menstruation. Their quick absorption into the skin also lets them accumulate and plays a part in breast cancer cells’ growth.

The Alternative: The good news is that paraben-free products can be found in abundance in the market. Check the labels and shift to paraben-free body and skincare.

Don’t stop at shampoo, soap, and facial products. People often overlook the ingredients in their deodorants. Choose ones made from natural ingredients, such as citrus-scented deodorants that are also aluminum-free and vegan-friendly.

Skipping Sunscreen

Sunscreen protects the skin against inflammation from two kinds of sun exposure: UVA rays and UVB rays. UVA rays have a longer wavelength and have long-term effects, such as aging. UVB rays, on the other hand, are shorter and are associated with sunburn.

Not using sunscreen puts a person at risk for skin cancer as both UV rays contribute to this. Sunburn also increases the risk of developing melanoma, a form of skin cancer.

The Alternative: Use sunscreen daily, even when you are only staying indoors. Make sure you are using the broad spectrum kind, which protects from both UVA and UVB rays. The SPF level should also be 30 or higher because the higher the SPF, the better the skin damage protection.

Don’t neglect your eyelids, neck, hands, and feet, too, when slathering it on your skin. These areas are often overlooked, making them more prone to skin issues.

Excessively Cleaning Your Ears

Many people regularly use cotton swabs, ear picks, or ear candles to remove earwax. These methods pose various health hazards that could lead to damaged eardrums and hearing loss. Our ears are self-cleaning, which means they usually do not need any help in staying sanitary.

Earwax, or cerumen, is in charge of collecting the dirt in your ears and finding its way out naturally. However, instances wherein earwax builds up and hampers hearing are likely a symptom of cerumen impaction. If you experience other symptoms such as dizziness and ringing in your ears, consult a medical professional immediately.

The Alternative: Instead of poking inside your ear canals and potentially pushing earwax further in, not touching them at all is the best ear-cleaning method. If you still prefer to clean your ears, use a damp cloth or cotton swab only on the outer area.

Over-brushing Your Teeth

Good oral hygiene means regularly brushing and flossing teeth. But brushing your teeth too often causes the teeth to become oversensitive due to lost enamel (the protective coating on the teeth). Brushing immediately after meals can also damage enamel.

Toothbrushes with hard bristles can also cause gums to bleed or swell due to irritation. Vigorous brushing recedes gums, allowing bacteria buildup that leads to rotting teeth.

The Alternative: Ideally, brushing two to three times a day is enough. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and apply just enough pressure to clean the teeth. It is also okay to brush after every meal, but it is an absolute must to wait at least one hour before preventing enamel damage.

washing hands in the sink

Using an Air Dryer After Handwashing

Air dryers are widely considered an eco-friendly alternative to paper towels for handwashing. Mayo Clinic reports that they, however, have worse hygienic performance. The process of air drying, especially jet air dryers, even facilitates the further spread of bacteria by blowing air around the restroom.

The Alternative: Paper towels are a far more hygienic choice for drying hands. If you are looking for a more environmentally friendly option, it might be better to have a clean handkerchief or hand towel with you to use after handwashing.

Everyday practices can sometimes be the biggest culprits to health concerns later on. Good hygiene habits can make a difference to a healthier life in the long term.

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