Avoid a smelly summer: Practice good hygiene.

By Julie Jordan
Published June 3, 2019

It’s summer. You’re hot. You’re sweaty. You’re … smelly? Personal hygiene is important for staying fresh, maintaining friendships and preventing diseases. And during warmer months, everything is more pungent. Good and bad odors alike fill the air. Let the smells remind you that mold and bacteria grow more easily in a warm climate and practicing good hygiene, especially during this time, is of paramount importance to good health.

Hygiene refers to behaviors that can improve cleanliness and lead to good health, such as frequent hand washing, face washing and bathing with soap and water. During the summer, you may have to engage in these activities more frequently to ensure the same level of hygiene as cooler months, because it is simply easier for diseases to spread in warmer months.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) good hygiene practices can be derived from preventing hygiene-related diseases:

  • Athlete’s Foot is an infection of the skin and feet that can be caused by a variety of different fungi. To prevent it:
    • Nails should be clipped short and kept clean. Nails can house and spread the infection.
    • Avoid walking barefoot in locker rooms or public showers (wear sandals).
  • Body Lice are parasitic insects that can live and lay eggs on clothing and only move to the skin to feed on human blood. To prevent it:
    • Bathe regularly and change into properly laundered clothes at least once a week; launder infested clothing at least once a week.  
  • Chronic Diarrhea is diarrhea that lasts for more than 2-4 weeks. It is sometimes caused by an infection. To prevent it:
    • Always drink clean, safe water that has been properly treated.
    • Always use proper food handling and preparation techniques.
    • Always maintain good hand hygiene.
  • Dental cavities, or tooth decay, is caused by a breakdown of the tooth enamel from bacteria on teeth that breakdown foods and produce acid that destroys tooth enamel. To prevent it:   
    • Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
    • Clean between your teeth daily with floss or interdental cleaner
    • Eat nutritious and balanced meals and limit snacking
    • Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral examination  
  • Head Lice are parasitic insects that can be found on the head and neck and survive by feeding on human blood. Lice are spread most commonly by close person-to-person contact. To prevent it:
    • Avoid head-to-head (hair-to-hair) contact during play and other activities at home, school, and elsewhere (sports activities, playground, slumber parties, camp).
    • Never share clothing such as hats, scarves, coats, sports uniforms, hair ribbons, or barrettes.
    • Never share combs, brushes, or towels.  
  • Hot Tub Rash is an infection of the skin spread by direct skin contact with contaminated water. To prevent it:
    • Avoid water that may be contaminated.
    • Remove swimsuits and shower after swimming.
    • Clean swimsuits after swimming.
  • Lymphatic Filariasis is a mosquito-borne parasitic disease caused by microscopic, thread-like worms. To prevent it:
    • Avoid mosquito bites. Use DEET-based repellant.  
  • Swimmer’s Ear is an infection of the outer ear canal. Symptoms appear within a few days of swimming. To prevent it:
    • Keep your ears as dry as possible during swimming using ear plugs or a bathing cap.
    • Dry your ears thoroughly after swimming or showering.
  • Recreational Water Illnesses (RWIs) are caused by germs and chemicals found in the water we swim in. They are spread by swallowing, breathing in mists or aerosols of, or having contact with contaminated water. To prevent it:
    • Make sure the water is clean.
    • Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea.  
  • Ringworm is a common skin infection that is caused by a fungus. It can cause a circular rash shaped like a ring that is usually red and itchy. To prevent it:
    • Keep your skin clean and dry.
    • Wear shoes that allow air to circulate freely around your feet.
    • Don’t walk barefoot in areas like locker rooms or public showers.
    • Clip your fingernails and toenails short and keep them clean.
    • Change your socks and underwear at least once a day.
    • Don’t share clothing, towels, sheets, or other personal items with someone who has ringworm.

Read the full list of hygiene-related diseases and prevention methods from the CDC.