How Often Should You Wash Your Hands, Hair, And Body?

Do we wash ourselves often enough? And are we doing it right? Interesting questions but which do not shine by their novelty. In 1951, Newsily, then under the direction of Françoise Giroud, struck hard with the publication of a large study on our hygiene. “Is the Frenchwoman clean?” Asked the editorial staff. At the time, the verdict was final: no, it was not. This questionable hygiene was then explained by the fact that very few households had access to hot water, and even less to a shower. Today, habits have fortunately largely changed, even if they are not optimal … This is what shows a vast survey of Ifop * published in February 2020, based on the responses of more than 2,000 people and that we detail here. Precision: we were then just before the containment due to the Covid-19 pandemic.A crisis that has placed hygiene at the heart of protective measures against this virus. It is therefore an opportunity to complete this survey with answers from specialists to the new questions we are asking ourselves.

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The body every day without exception         

The figure: 81% of women do a complete toilet at least once a day.                

Verdict: “We recommend doing it twice a day at most, especially for fragile skin,” recalls Pierre Schneider, dermatologist. Several studies have been misunderstood and have led some to believe that we wash too often. But this is not the case. Today, by using gentle cleansing bases (see box p. 93), there is no negative effect on the skin’s microbiome. “Brigitte Richaud-Morel, pharmacist and hygienist practitioner at the University Hospital of Nîmes, particularly recommends” to clean the armpits, groin and navel well, because viruses can proliferate there “.

Hands more often and longer 

The figure: 70% of women wash their hands before cooking, 51% before eating, 42% after taking public transport, 29% after blowing their nose.

Verdict: the study was therefore conducted before the recommendations to fight the pandemic were put in place. “In any case, you must always wash your hands in all the cases cited”, recalls Brigitte Richaud-Morel. Since last year and the arrival of Covid-19, our habits have changed. “On this point, the virus is revealing and must be raised awareness, confirms Pierre Schneider. These figures show that we were well below the recommendations. Moreover, pediatricians and general practitioners notice that there are fewer gastroenteritis, bronchiolitis and flu, in children as in adults, this winter. This shows that our habits have evolved and that before they did not protect us enough. We therefore recommend washing your hands with soap and water for thirty seconds. This time allows the five stages of washing to be carried out (we wet, we rub the palms, the back, between the fingers, under the nails, then we rub for twenty seconds.). The same duration is recommended for the hydroalcoholic gel, although scientists are currently conducting studies to find out if a shorter time would be sufficient.

The figure: 75% of women (68% of men) wash their hands systematically after using the toilet.                

Verdict: it’s too little. “The risk is having part of the flora of the digestive tract on the hands, we know that it can live there for several hours. It is also recommended to flush the toilet with the toilet seat closed to avoid contaminating the surrounding environment, recalls Jérôme Ory, pharmacist practitioner at Nîmes University Hospital. In the case of Covid-19, the virus is found in the stools of infected people, but it is not yet known whether the stool is contagious. ”     

Hair when you want!        

The figure: 96% of women wash their hair at least once a week (they were only 11% in 1951!), 21% do it every other day, 41% two or three times a week and 26% once a week.                

Verdict: easy on the shampoo. “It is not necessary to wash your hair every day, even in times of pandemic, judge Brigitte Richaud-Morel. The possibility of contamination through the hair is not proven, even when touched with the hands. In order for the droplets to cling, a mucous membrane is needed. Moreover, not all caregivers wear a charlotte. ” And for the rest ? Dre Olive, dermatologist, recommends washing when you observe excess sebum, quite simply. And the famous “ sebum cure ”? An aberration according to her, because the sebum can cause irritation of the scalp, the skin of the face and especially dandruff.

The face with a suitable cleanser    

The figure: 44% of women and men wash their faces twice a day, according to a survey conducted in 11 countries in 2020, at a rate of 500 people per country (Ipsos institute for the CeraVe brand).                

Verdict: “Do it at least once a day. The most important thing is in the evening to eliminate the particles that generate free radicals which participate in the accelerated aging of the skin. In the morning, a quicker wash with thermal water or a mild cleanser is sufficient, ”recommends Pierre Schneider. No need to drastically change your habits during a pandemic, but you can wash your face as soon as you get home, especially if you’re prone to mask acne. “Remember that all cleansers, including micellar water, must rinse off,” recalls the dermatologist. If your skin feels tight and red, it means that your cleanser is not suitable for your skin at this time. Its needs change with the seasons. And are cleaning gloves really useful? ” Yes.Be sure to choose a very soft version. If they are very exfoliating, they can cause a surge of sebum on acne-prone skin. “

The vulva: no soap   

The figure: 94% of women change their panties every day (they were 17% in 1951).                

Verdict: this corresponds to the recommendations. “Wear cotton or silk, which is more breathable for the microbial flora,” recommends Chloé Godefroy, obstetrician gynecologist. Do not use panty liner on a daily basis, it can dry out the mucous membranes. The underwear is washed at 60 ° C. We take a shower quickly after sports so as not to stay in wet underwear. Other than that, no specific recommendations. “We recommend cleaning the penis once or twice a day at most, like the rest of the body, and with bare hands because gloves can transfer microbes. Lukewarm water is sufficient. There is no need for shower gel or soap on this area. You can use an intimate wipe from time to time, but not every day because they can dry out and unbalance the vaginal flora. Antiseptic soaps prescribed by doctors should be used temporarily.Intimate deodorants or perfume are also not recommended. “You can choose a dermatological bar if a doctor advises it”, recalls the expert. Prefer showers rather than prolonged baths, which dehydrate the mucous membranes. Do not share your towel and wash it once a week at 60 ° C. After sexual intercourse, “with or without penetration, it is advisable to go urinate within the next thirty minutes,” recalls the gynecologist. This helps to flush germs out of the genital area. Ideally, you also rinse the area with lukewarm water and wash your hands. Ditto after each saddle ”. Intimate deodorants or perfume are also not recommended. “You can choose a dermatological bar if a doctor advises it”, recalls the expert. Prefer showers rather than prolonged baths, which dehydrate the mucous membranes.Do not share your towel and wash it once a week at 60 ° C. After sexual intercourse, “with or without penetration, it is advisable to go urinate within the next thirty minutes,” recalls the gynecologist. This helps to flush germs out of the genital area. Ideally, you also rinse the area with lukewarm water and wash your hands. Ditto after each saddle ”. Intimate deodorants or perfume are also not recommended. “You can choose a dermatological bar if a doctor advises it”, recalls the expert. Prefer showers rather than prolonged baths, which dehydrate the mucous membranes. Do not share your towel and wash it once a week at 60 ° C. After sexual intercourse, “with or without penetration, it is advisable to go urinate within the next thirty minutes,” recalls the gynecologist.This helps to flush germs out of the genital area. Ideally, you also rinse the area with lukewarm water and wash your hands. Ditto after each saddle ”. Which dehydrate the mucous membranes. Do not share your towel and wash it once a week at 60 ° C. After sexual intercourse, “with or without penetration, it is advisable to go urinate within the next thirty minutes,” recalls the gynecologist. This helps to flush germs out of the genital area. Ideally, you also rinse the area with lukewarm water and wash your hands. Ditto after each saddle ”. Which dehydrate the mucous membranes. Do not share your towel and wash it once a week at 60 ° C. After sexual intercourse, “with or without penetration, it is advisable to go urinate within the next thirty minutes,” recalls the gynecologist. This helps to flush germs out of the genital area.Ideally, you also rinse the area with lukewarm water and wash your hands. Ditto after each saddle ”.

Teeth: long live dental floss        

The figure:  26% of French people do not brush their teeth at least twice a day, according to a survey of 22,969 French people, published in February 2019 (Pierre Fabre Oral Care-UFSBD).                

Verdict:  we have a long way to go! It is recommended that you brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day. “Ideally, lunchtime too,” advises Jérémy Amzalag, dentist and co-author of the book “Et If Your Dentist Could Save Your Life!” (ed. Hugo New Life). We use a manual or electric brush, the main thing is not to brutalize the gums. »Which toothpaste to choose? “It is incidental to the action of brushing. Most contain fluoride, which works to protect the enamel. However, be careful not to use too often compositions containing bicarbonate or charcoal, which can make the enamel porous and increase coloring problems. ”                

The figure:  75% of French people think that the toothbrush is enough.                

Verdict: this  is where the shoe pinches. “Brushing is not enough,” continues Jérémy Amzalag. In France, this is not at all in our habits, but we recommend that you use dental floss every day to clean the space between the teeth, where bacteria can lodge, and that the toothbrush does not clean not at all ”, continues the dentist . Only 13% of the people questioned say they do it at least once a day. “Otherwise, it can create inflammation of the gums, bleeding and, in the long term, loosening of the teeth. Once or twice a week, also brush the tongue and the inside of the cheeks, because bacteria can lodge there, ”recalls the practitioner.                

What about mouthwashes?  They are not essential. “They can be useful in the fight against dental plaque,” ​​says the dentist. If you choose one that contains alcohol or chlorhexi-dine, do not use it for more than a week per month. Over time, they can dry up or upset the bacterial balance. ”                

And against the Covid-19?  A study shows that using a mouthwash containing cetylpri-dinium chloride, an antiseptic, may be effective in neutralizing the virus in the mouth, but it is still too early to draw specific recommendations.

What is the microbiome?

These are all the microorganisms that inhabit the surface of our skin: bacteria, fungi and viruses. This living flora has been the subject of numerous studies over the past ten years. They have shown that these microorganisms are part of the skin barrier. They form a “protective” balance that must be taken care of. Clearly, current cosmetics seek not to disrupt this microbial harmony, an essential element of good skin health. Many treatments even offer to “nourish” this flora with the help of prebiotics. 

Not all hydroalcoholic gels are created equal  

Last November, the DGCCRF ** tested the formulas of 162 hydroalcoholic gels on the market. Verdict: 13% of them (list on economie.gouv.fr) did not contain enough alcohol to be effective against the virus. The DGCCRF recommends favoring gels with an alcohol percentage greater than 60%, or the mention of standard EN 14476, which specifies that the formula is active on the virus.                 

Cleansers: with or without soap?                

Foaming gel, washing oil, cleansing milk… the offer is vast. There are actually two families of cleaners. Resulting from the chemical process of saponification (the reaction of fatty substances and soda), soaps have a basic pH which can unbalance the microbial flora of dry and sensitive skin. “Soap-free, syndets (synthetic detergents) contain synthetic surfactants, such as coco-betaine, sodium lauryl sulphate or sodium cocoyl glutamate. They have the same cleaning potential as soaps, but they are less drying, therefore recommended for dry skin, ”says Romain Rouch, chemist and marketing director of CeraVe. Is a cleanser and a makeup remover the same? “No, specific surfactants, in particular based on amino acids, capture makeup, recalls Romain Rouch. The makeup remover, therefore, has a specific action, but it cleanses the skin very well.”

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Credit:© elle.fr

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