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Skin

Skin hygiene - WHY?

In 1846, English surgeon John Coventry published a paper in the prestigious Lancet Journal, to “excite attention to a most important but neglected section of hygiene – ablution, and to elucidate the various evils of dirtiness as deduced from the structure and function of the skin.”  (Source 1)

In other words, the importance of washing and having clean skin.

The skin is the largest organ of the human body. It has several layers including an outer layer of dead skin cells, an inner layer with blood vessels, nerves, hair follicles and glands, and a deeper fatty layer.

Skin plays a vital role in:

  • Temperature regulation – pores in the skin open and close to regulate movement of gases and sweat across the skin.
  • Insulation – the fatty skin layer helps insulate the body.
  • Sense of touch – skin receptors send messages to our brain in response to stimuli.
  • Protection – providing a barrier to foreign substances and physical protection for delicate internal organs.
  • Production of vitamin D – one of the essential vitamins.

When you remove dirt, oil, bacteria and dead skin cells from the skin surface, skin can perform all of these functions more easily. Special attention is needed for areas where dirt, bodily secretions and moisture can accumulate: behind the ears, in the belly button, under the arms, in the genital areas and between the toes. These can become breeding grounds for bacteria and fungi.

Skin hygiene - HOW?

Bathing and showering with quality personal care products removes build-up on the skin surface. There are many varieties of cleansers. Soaps come as bars, gels, liquids and foams and can also be anti-bacterial, have added moisturiser, in a range of fragrances or fragrance-free. There are also soap-free body cleansers and specialised facial cleansers. When cleaning the skin “on the go”, body and face wipes can be a convenient option.

After washing, moisturizing lotions and creams can help maintain the integrity of the skin surface by keeping it supple and smooth.

There are many varieties of skincare lotions and oils, including some with sun protection properties. If you will be spending time outside, you should consider the regular use of sunscreen products regardless of your skin type. Sunscreens work by filtering or blocking ultraviolet radiation (UV) and are available in many varieties which include:

  • A range of sun protection factors (SPFs), with a higher SPF indicating a greater degree of sun protection.
  • Broad spectrum, which acts against the effects of both long and short UV wavelengths: UVA that penetrates deep into the skin causing unseen damage, and UVB that affects the skin surface and is visible as burning.
  • Water resistant, good for use at the beach or pool.
  • Different consistencies such as creams, lotions, milks, gels and sprays. These can be a matter of personal preference, however it may be easier to apply gels or sprays to hairier areas of the body, and sprays can be good for hard-to-reach areas such as the back.
Regular exfoliation can also help remove dirt and dead skin cells from the skin's surface, helping to keep pores open.

A small percentage of people can experience skin allergies to some ingredients in personal care products. If you are trying a new product and want to check for your skin’s response, do a “patch test”: place a small amount of product on the inside of your wrist or arm and watch for any redness or irritation over the next 24 hours. This applies not only to products designed specifically to care for the skin, but also to other personal care and cosmetic products that contact the skin.

Source 1: Coventry, J. 1846, "On the Mischiefs of Uncleanliness", in The Lancet, Vol. 47, No. 1184, pp. 523-525


useful stuff...


The human body may be home to 10 times as many bacteria as human cells. Researchers believe the human body has over 500 bacterial species living in and on it.7 Trouble getting a date? 75% of women in a New York survey said they would only date a guy who showered daily.8   20-30% of handbags have faecal bacteria on the underside.22 In 2006, women spent an average of 54 minutes and men 43 minutes per day on personal hygiene.9
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