Wash your hands of improper hygienic practices
Add this to the ever-growing list of things that shouldn’t be contentious but apparently are: Hygiene. With finals looming just over the horizon, it’s absolutely imperative that students stay healthy, both physically and mentally. Sure, everyone’s heard about eating healthy, staying fit and getting enough sleep — but good hygiene also plays a pivotal role in keeping your body and mind in tip-top shape.
That may seem trite and unnecessary to mention. After all, we’ve been endlessly reminded and prompted throughout our elementary and middle school careers to use proper handwashing techniques (warm water, lather for 20 seconds, rinse), sneeze into our elbows instead of the open air and to shower and brush our teeth fastidiously on a daily basis.
But it seems Millennials are meeting older generations’ low opinions of us in at least one fairly alarming way: College students are apparently predisposed to disappoint and underwhelm when it comes to the realm of hygiene.
The Pacifican recently published an article in which researchers from the University of Findlay in Findlay, Ohio set out to see whether students were adequate handwashers, and whether or not following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines made a significant difference in cleanliness.
To make a long study short, more than 50 percent of the 220 students tested were not employing effective handwashing practices, despite the fact that this made them more susceptible to contracting infectious diseases. Researchers found a clear correlation between improper and infrequent handwashing and more frequent visits to the doctor, as well as increased absences from home and work. Washing their hands according to the CDC’s guidelines did reduce the amount of potentially infectious bacterial colonies found on students’ hands.
The fact that handwashing and good hygiene as a whole are even in question is quite concerning. After all, it’s not difficult to do, and it doesn’t take that much time away from your day to take a shower and brush your teeth at least once per night.
Even if you haven’t yet gotten cavities from neglecting daily teeth brushing, or even if you stay pretty healthy despite not washing properly, neither of those are routines that are healthy or smart to fall into. Improper brushing can lead to gingivitis and tooth loss later on, while improper washing poses a health risk to both you and those around you.
When asked to comment on why students might be neglecting hygiene, Brandon Chan ’17 said, “Part of it is likely just sheer laziness… You get stressed and then kind of let things fall to the wayside. But I also think that, partially, those students are forgetting how privileged they are to even have access to clean water.”
Chan brings up a valid point: Millions of people around the world don’t even have clean drinking water, let alone water to wash with.
But not being able to take water usage for granted isn’t just some far-off, foreign problem: We don’t have to travel far from home or campus to glimpse homeless individuals who would likely love to have access to clean laundry and hot showers every day and night.
Water is a precious resource, a fact that we, as Californians living in a drought, should all have internalized by now. But saving water by not washing is neither a healthy nor sustainable option.
As Chan so prudently concluded, “We should be grateful that we can wash our hands, bodies and laundry in hot water practically whenever we want. You should practice good hygiene to help keep not only yourself but also the world around you healthy and fresh.”
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