By K.C. Dermody
For most college students, going off to school brings the first real sense of independence and freedom. You’ll experience an abundance of unfamiliarity as you’re exposed to a new learning environment and living arrangements filled with different types of people. With this new environment and people comes a host of germs and viruses that can easily be passed around, potentially keeping you from your studies and threatening to impact your grades. In fact, 68 percent of college students stated that they missed class due to illness, according to a survey conducted on behalf of global hygiene company SCA.
You’ll probably make every effort to look your best by taking frequent showers and wearing the latest fashions, but there are many aspects of hygiene that college students commonly overlook. Ensure you’re taking the proper steps for good health this semester with these four tips:
1. Wash your hands often
Mom probably reminded you every single day to wash your hands, but now that you’re out on your own, it’s easy to forget. Good hand hygiene habits are crucial for preventing the spread of cold and flu viruses. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention offers these startling facts about hand washing:
- It is estimated that washing hands with soap and water could reduce diarrheal disease-associated deaths by up to 50 percent.
- More than 50 percent of healthy people have Staphylococcus aureus living in or on their nasal passages, throats, hair, or skin.
- Hand washing can reduce the risk of respiratory infections by 16 percent.
Germs are commonly passed along when shaking someone’s hand, touching a stair railing or door knob, and handling money among many other common activities. Protect yourself by washing your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 to 30 seconds.
2. Take care of your contact lenses
If you wear contact lenses, you should know that they carry a risk of eye infection, particularly if good hygiene practices aren’t followed. Be sure to carefully follow the lens care guidelines your optician or ophthalmologist prescribed, and replace contact lenses frequently in order to reduce the risk of infection. Save money by ordering them online from a company like VisionDirect.
3. Maintain good oral health
Taking good care of your mouth and teeth helps to ensure that you have a healthy, attractive smile in addition to eliminating bacteria that can cause bad breath, cavities, and gum disease. Brush at least twice a day, and replace your toothbrush every three to four months. If you notice the bristles becoming frayed, it’s time to get a new one. Proper daily flossing is also a must. Floss one tooth at a time by sliding the floss in the space between your tooth and gum, gently rubbing the side of the tooth in and up and down motion.
4. Launder bed linens frequently
Laundry may be inconvenient with your new packed schedule and your living accommodations, but make every effort to wash your pillow cases, comforters and sheets in hot water and detergent at least once a week. Dust mites are drawn to the dark, moist environment of a mattress, and mite infestations are known to cause allergies and rashes as well as exacerbating asthma, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
About the author: K.C. Dermody is a freelance writer who has published work on numerous sites and in printed publications, including Yahoo Travel, Sports & News, RunLiveLearn and The Sherpa Report.