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Personal Hygiene

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Definitions: Hygiene refers to the general condition of the body. Personal Hygiene refers to basic cleanliness of the body.

Cleanliness/ personal hygiene is the most basic comfort measure. It includes bathing, hair, nail, and mouth care and wearing comfortable, clean clothing. Bathing should be done at least daily as a child’s activity increases. Hair should be brushed or combed at least daily and washed as needed. Fingernails and toenails should be kept trimmed and clean. Teeth should be brushed after meals and flossing should be done daily.

Bathing should be done with a mild, non-abrasive soap such as Dove®, Tone®, or Lever 2000®. During the bath, newborns and infants need to be supported and NEVER left unattended near water. Older children may prefer showers to baths, and depending on ability, may or may not require supervision or assistance. Bathing should be done with water that is lukewarm to warm to touch. Start washing the face, eyes, and ears first. Once wet, scrub with soap and washcloth, careful not to miss ears, between skinfolds, the neck, the back, and the genital area (private parts). The genital area should be carefully cleansed with special attention to skin folds. For uncircumcised boys, the foreskin should be gently pulled back and the area cleaned. Bring the foreskin forward again after cleaning. It is very important to rinse all areas with clean, warm water and dry well. Pay special attention to skinfolds and between fingers and toes.

Mouth care is an important part of daily hygiene. Infants and young children will need assistance to brush their teeth. Older children often need to be reminded. Teeth should be brushed after all meals, but at least twice a day (once in the morning and once before bed). Floss between teeth at least once a day.

Hair should be brushed or combed at least once daily and styled for comfort. Infants and children can have their hair shampooed during their bath or shower. For most children, washing the hair and scalp once or twice a week is enough unless there is a reason (such as heavy sweating) for washing it more often. Teenagers normally have increased oily skin and hair and may need to bathe every day.


Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 11/06

(757) 668-7000