Hygiene: Ways or practices of the mind, body, soul and environment to maintain health and prevent diseases, especially through cleanliness.
Maintaining a clean hygiene is a way of life that includes keeping the body clean. To achieve this, we need sufficient education about the need and methodology about clean hygiene. A clean house and a clean body but an undisciplined way of life such as unearthly hours, junk food, bad company, addictions and corruption will eventually lead to bad health and hygiene.
Therefore it is important that awareness and conditions, situations or events that will lead to a poor hygiene is kept.
For the young ladies
Menstruation: The monthly cycle may start as early as 9 years and go on till 50 years or 55 years before menopause sets in.
The monthly discharge of blood from the uterus varies from 30 to 150 ml that may require change of sanitary pads 2 – 3 times a day. Blood is the most potent culture media for bacteria and fungus, and if the perineum is not kept clean, one may land up with infections on a regular basis.
The genital parts are very delicate and washing with hot water and detergent soaps may cause irritation excoriation and infection. Acidic medium (Lactic acid) through Doederlins bacilli in the vagina, keeps the pH in the area detrimental to the growth of organisms. However, blood neutralises the acid, and makes the area alkaline, and prone to infections. As such, use of lactic acid based lotions to wash the area is recommended. One has to use a brand ranging from Everfresh, V-wash, Sougella, Clingen or what have you to keep the genitalia clean.
The type of sanitary pads, used should be anti-allergic and smooth. Synthetic super absorbent material though very useful can cause irritation and itching too. Select what suits your hygiene and the pocket.
It is important to change pads about three times a day to keep the area from getting soggy, as sweat and hydradenous discharge also adds on. For a busy person, twice a day may be suitable, but be careful.
Tampons and other intra vaginal absorbent material are available galore. While it is convenient and does not have the ‘space occupying discomfort’ of a sanitary pad, the tampon can be dangerous for those who are careless or forgetful.
A Tampon forgotten in the vagina can allow staphylococcus aureus and streptococcus progenes to multiply and release toxins into the blood resulting in ‘Toxic Shock Syndrome’ that can be fatal.
The syndrome starts with fever and hypotension, and can result in bodyache, rapidly progressing into coma. Skin rashes and multiple organ failure are known. For those who are used Tampons, beware, keep changing and keep a count of used and disposed Tampons.
If you find that you are bleeding too less, or too much, please don’t hesitate to talk to your mom, and get her to take an appointment with her gynaecologist and get all doubts cleared.
The clittoralarea, and labia minoraare often enclosed in flap like skin extensions that harbour skin exfoliations and vaginal discharge, can form scabs, that may be painful to remove. It is important for you (especially between 9-14 years girls) to request your mom to inspect and clean the area with appropriate lotions suggested. Elsevulvitis and urinary infection is common.
If you are used to having sexual relations, ensure your boy friend uses adequate protection or condoms. The seminal discharge may add to your woes, both physical and mental (or moral).
The Escutcheon and hair around the genetalia can harbour bacteria and fungi, though it is not compulsory to shave the area, it is important to wash and keep hair free from body discharges.
For the young boys:
Many boys treat their penis as a distant organ to be touched only to urinate. It is important to remember that after puberty the glands which is covered by the prepuce (foreskin) gathers discharge from the glans as well as ‘wet dreams’; left without washing the smegma (the white discharge below the prepuce) can get infected and result in balanoposthitis.
Refraction of the prepuce and cleaning the glans daily at bath, with any normal soap is enough, least infection could result.
At times a fine rash appears on the glans like an allergy, which is benign and generally disappears on its own. This may not be a problem. However, if you are sexually active and find a rash or ulcer on the penis you may be in for a sexually transmitted disease, and should contact a specialist urgently.
Before marriage, your most reliable partner may be unreliable and infections are not uncommon when more than one partner is involved. The ‘I’ am safe or ‘We’ are safe may be an eyewash (applies to boys and girls equally).
The hair around the pubic and scrotum in boys is extremely prone to fungal infections (especially in hostels) where laziness from washing and bathing leads to a comfortable culture media for the fungus to grow in the undergarment.
Pediculosis pubis (pubic lice of crab lice) is known in young boys and Tineacruris (Jock-Itch) is not so uncommon. White Pediculosis can be treated with permathrin or pyrethrins the Tinea generally responds to clotrimazol. (The girls may need Co-trimazole tablets and intravaginalclotrimazole cream).
The need for allotting hours to sleep, exercise, meditation, diet, study, education and proper social interaction cannot be over emphasised.
(Columnist is a well-known gynaecologist practising in Panaji. Send in your queries to email@example.com)