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Personal hygiene and handwashing

As well as having negative social affects, poor hygiene and hand washing causes health problems. Poor hygiene can cause sickness and disease. Poor hygiene can also cause social rejection and may also lead to bullying, low confidence and low self-esteem.

What causes body odour?

Sweat doesn’t smell but the bacteria on your skin that loves sweat causes the bad smell. Teenagers produce more sweat because of the hormonal changes in their bodies.

  • Shower or bathe every day
  • Use antiperspirant/deodorant
  • Wear clean clothes (underwear, socks, shirt) every day 

Why do I get spots?

Teenagers produce more natural oils during puberty which often lead to spots (acne). You should wash your face every day with soap or cleanser to help remove these oils.

Can I stop my feet smelling?

Poor foot hygiene not only causes smelly feet but can cause infections like Athletes Foot.

  • Wash your feet at the end of every day
  • Wear socks made from natural fibres (cotton or wool) as synthetic fibres cause the feet to sweat more 

Why’s my hair always greasy?

During the teenage years your skin produces more oil.

  • You will need to wash your hair every other day
  • Brush your hair every day
  • Ask someone to check your hair for head lice and treat if necessary 

What about my teeth?

Good dental hygiene is important to keep your teeth and gums healthy and stop bad breath. A good teeth cleaning technique is important so ask advice about this.

  • Clean your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
  • Change your toothbrush at least every 3 months
  • Use floss to clean between your teeth.
  • Visit your dentist regularly for check-ups

Why is it bad to bite your nails?

Not only does it look ugly, it can damage the skin around the nail. Also, lots of germs can be found under the finger nails and so you are much more likely to get stomach upsets and other infections.

  • Wash your hands frequently, especially before and after food and always after going to the toilet
  • When washing your hands, don’t forget to clean behind your nails
  • Keep nails well cut or filed 

What products should I buy?

There are many products on the market and there is no need to spend a lot of money, supermarket’s own brands are fine. In your wash bag you will need:

  • Soap (or cleanser)
  • Flannel/Sponge
  • Shampoo
  • Brush/comb
  • Toothbrush and Fluoride toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Nail clippers/nail file

Should girls use vaginal washes or sprays?

No! The vagina has a natural ability to remove harmful bacteria. By using these products you will interfere with this process. This can lead to infections and soreness as well as allergic reactions.


Sweaty Facts!

  • Sweating isn’t medically dangerous but it can be embarrassing and emotionally distressing
  • Sweating doesn’t cause body odour
  • Bad body odour is caused when bacteria living on the skin breaks down protein and fatty substances secreted by sweat glands
  • People usually sweat in the armpits (underarms), the groin and feet (due to wearing socks and shoes)
  • Many teenagers notice that they sweat more than they used to. This is normal throughout puberty (from about 10-18 years old)
  • Sometimes, excessive sweating can be caused by obesity or medical conditions (such as diabetes). Occasionally the problem needs to be investigated by a  GP.

What Might Help?

  • Avoid things that make your sweating worse (such as spicy foods or alcohol)
  • Wash/shower every day to remove the odour causing bacteria
  • Wear clean clothes (underwear, shirts) every day
  • Use antiperspirant after washing (rather than deodorants)
  • Avoid tight, restrictive clothing and man-made fibres, such as nylon
  • Wearing white or black clothing can minimise the signs of sweating
  • Wear socks that absorb moisture, for example thick, soft socks made of natural fibres or sports socks designed to absorb moisture. Avoid synthetics, and change your socks at least once a day.
  • Buy shoes that are made of leather, canvas or mesh rather than synthetic (man-made) material

 If you would like more information, ask your school nurse.