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Hygiene Poverty

According to our 2022 survey, 53% of surveyed females admitted to struggling to find access to essential basic hygiene products. This contributes to the hygiene poverty problem. Hygiene poverty is not being able to afford many of the everyday hygiene and personal grooming products. (The Hygiene Bank)

Hygiene poverty can affect person hygiene such as, dental, body, handwashing, nails, menstrual, and genital, to environmental and kitchen hygiene.

Hygiene Poverty not only prevents individuals from feeling confident in finding a job, but also impacts the individual’s health and well-being. Individuals and families affected by hygiene poverty tend to rely on food banks* and pantries* to get their basic hygiene needs.

Common Terms Related to Hygiene Poverty

Difference between hygiene and cleanliness: Hygiene refers to behaviors that can improve cleanliness and lead to good health, such as frequent handwashing, facial cleanliness, and bathing with soap and water. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)

Hygiene: Hygiene is a science of the establishment and maintenance of health. Conditions or practices (as of cleanliness) conducive to health. (Merriam Webster)

Personal Hygiene: According to Medical journals and Medical Associations, hygiene can be broken down into six categories. Within the categories, these are their recommendations.

  • Hand Hygiene:

    • Wash hands before, during and after preparing a meal

    • Wash hands before eating

    • Wash hands after going to the restroom

    • Wash hands if you are caring for anyone who is sick, vomiting or experiencing diarrhea

    • Wash hands after changing a baby's diaper or an adult’s incontinence diaper

    • Wash hands after blowing your nose, coughing and/or sneezing

    • Wash hands after handling pet-related items, such as food and cleaning-up after your pet

  • Dental:

    • Brush teeth for 2 minutes twice a day

    • Floss daily

    • Replace toothbrush every 3 - 4 months

  • Body:

    • Shower, Bath, Soap, Shampoo, Deodorant helps removes the bacteria on the skin, can prevent skin irritation and also reduces body odor

  • Nails:

    • Fingernails can trap dirt and germs; nails can also get infected requiring medical attention

    • Regular use of nail clipper, nail files and good handwashing can help reduce the risk of infection as well as the spread of infection

  • Menstrual & Genital Hygiene:

    • Change period product regularly

    • Clean genitals daily with mild soap and water

    • Wipe front to back after using the bathroom

    • Wash hands before and after inserting a period product

    • Wash hands before and after using the bathroom

    • Avoid using products that may disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina and lead to infections

  • Wound Care:

    • Clean wound right away by gently rinsing it with clean water

    • Apply thin layer of antibiotic ointment or other doctor recommended ointment to help prevent infection

    • Cover the wound with sterile bandage or gauze

    • Keep the wound clean and dry

    • Watch for signs of infection (redness, swelling, warmth, pus) and contact a healthcare provider immediately if you notice these signs

    • Seek help immediately if wound is deep or shows signs of infection

  • Clothing Hygiene:

    • Clean clothes help with the feeling of dignity and also can reduce the risk of odors or infections

    • Protects skin from irritants and allergens

Environmental Hygiene:

  • Surfaces visibly free of soil

Kitchen Hygiene:

  • Safe food and storage preparation

Negative Effects of Personal Hygiene:

  • Hygiene Related Diseases according to the Center For Disease Control and Prevention can include:

    • Tooth Decay

    • Gum Disease

    • Cavities

    • Bad Breath

    • Head Lice

    • Athlete’s Foot

    • Various skin infections, scabies, ringworm

    • Social Impact

    • Emotional Impact

  • Conditions poor hygiene can indicate:

    • Alzehimer’s Disease

    • Dementia

    • Depression

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