For most people, good personal hygiene is just a way of life – though everyone skips a shower, forgets to floss, or sleeps in sheets that are overdue for a good washing. How bad could it be? We asked the experts – and the truth may shock you.
Irregular brushing or flossing your teeth
What would happen if you abandoned your toothbrush and dental floss? “You would first experience swollen, bleeding gums, bad breath, and [you] may develop cavities,” says dentist Natasha Lee. Untreated cavities would travel to the nerve, requiring root canals, and debris in your mouth would lead to gum disease, a painless condition that eventually causes your teeth to fall out.
And it gets worse. “There is a growing amount of research that indicates an association between gum disease and other health problems like heart disease and diabetes,” notes Lee.
Rarely showering or bathing
“Personal hygiene serves a more important purpose than just keeping body odour at bay,” says skin care expert Janine Frances. It’s not just gross, in other words: Soap and water can prevent acne, rashes and life-threatening infections. “Bacteria grows rapidly on the body, and when it has lots of dead skin cells to feed off of, bacteria on your skin can cause itching, irritation and inflammation,” says Frances. “If you already have a skin condition, such as eczema, not showering regularly can make it worse.”
Eventually, a condition called dermatitis neglecta would set in if you stop showering completely, says Frances. You’ll notice thick patches of brown plaque on the skin, and they can lead to secondary infections. Luckily, dermatitis neglecta is usually treatable with regular washing. In severe cases, topical medication might be needed to break down the plaque.