All of us are taught about hygienic living and this subject should be included as a chapter in the curriculum of every school. There are many different kinds of hygiene.

Respiratory hygiene: To prevent cross infection, specifically, from flu and related respiratory illness. One should be at a distance of minimum 3 ft, from a person who is coughing, sneezing or singing. Most respiratory particles are more than 5 microns in size and do not travel a distance of more than 3 ft. This may be one reason why in the ancient times, sneezing was considered a bad omen and people were asked to stay away for few seconds from someone who sneezes in front of them. This respiratory hygiene, however, will not prevent transmission of tuberculosis whose bacteria are less than 5 microns which keeps circulating in the area.

Hand hygiene: This is the fundamental principle for any disease prevention and the catch phrase is “before and after”, which means – one should wash hands before and after eating food, touching any infected material, seeing a patient or after normal evacuation of stool in the morning.

Food hygiene: This basically means maintaining hygiene at home while cutting, serving and eating food. While cutting a vegetable, it involves clean hygienic surface, knife, hands, water, utensils etc. If that hygiene is not possible, follow the formula of boil it, heat it, peel it, cook it or forget it. That means, any food which has been boiled, heated or peeled is safe for eating. Peeling means removing the skin of a fruit such as banana or oranges.

Water hygiene: involves drinking safe water, safe drinking glass, proper washing of glass, not washing multiple glasses in the same utensil and proper picking of glasses. It is often seen that many caretakers pick up four glasses of water at a time with four fingers one in each glass.

Sexual hygiene: This involves washing local areas before and after sexual contact.

Body hygiene: This involves 16 upchars, as mentioned in mythology. Out of these 16 basic steps, some are related to body hygiene and they involve washing feet first and then hands followed by mouth and finally the body. Washing of the feet is the most important as they are the ones which carry infections into one’s house.

Cleaning of mouth is cleaning the teeth with one finger, gums with two fingers, tongue with three fingers and palate with thumb.

Abhishekam or the snana of the body involves multiple steps. Ancient steps have been washing the body with milk water (rose water etc.) followed by rubbing with curd (soap), honey (moisturizers), ghee (oil), sugar (the drying agent) and finally with milk water again. This facilitates natural bathing and not dependent on soap.

Nail hygiene: This is also one of the most important hygiene because they are responsible for causation of water and food disease. Therefore, this hygiene is very important for food handlers. It is important that they be give typhoid vaccines and de–worming tablets every three months

Servant hygiene: The most important hygiene to be observed at our homes is that of the servants or the help. They are often provided soap at the start of the month and they are supposed to continue using that soap for a month. If by any chance, they lose that soap in 2–3 weeks’ time, they are apprehensive in asking the owners for soap. As a result, they may wash their hands without soap for the next 2–3 weeks, which includes washing of hands in morning.

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