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PERSONAL HYGIENE PRACTICES AND HEALTH OF SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS IN EKET LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF AKWA IBOM STATE
Hygiene refers to practices and conditions that help to maintain health and prevent the spread of diseases. They include practices that deal with the preservation of health. Basic personal hygiene refers to the principles of maintaining cleanliness and grooming of the external body parts. It includes practices such as bathing regularly, washing hands whenever necessary, trimming of finger and toe nails, wearing washed clothes daily, washing the hair and keeping clean from lice and dandruff, brushing the teeth and caring for the gums (Seenivasan, Mary, Priya, Devi, Nanthini, Jahan and Samyuktha, 2016).
Lack of personal hygiene and unhygienic living conditions promote person-to-person transmission of infections and seem to be an important factor for high incidence of skin diseases, respiratory diseases, worm infections, diarrhoeal and dental diseases. According to Seenivasan et al, (2016) these morbidities are found to be higher and more severe among children than adults. Infection and malnutrition form a vicious cycle compromising the child’s attendance and performance at school, retarding the child’s overall development, including physical, mental and social development.
Ejifugha, and Ibhafidon (2014) submitted that maintenance of optimal personal hygiene has always been a challenge to adolescents in schools in Nigeria. Well groomed adolescents whose knowledge of personal hygiene taught in school and reinforced by their home orientations demonstrate a high level of personal hygiene. Personal hygiene is individualistic and depends comprehensively on the active and passive activities people engage in to promote personal hygiene. Such practices include personal actions for preventing or minimizing the effects of diseases, prevention of infection and illness and ensuring that life is safe from spread of diseases. Practically, personal health encompasses dressing and clothing, physical fitness, rest and exercise, use of cosmetics, oral hygiene and hair care. Proper maintenance of these skills can promote prevention of infections, skin diseases and strengthen body fitness generally.
The focus of good personal hygiene is to prevent diseases, injuries and other health conditions through surveillance and the promotion of healthy behaviour in aspects relevant to health. Good personal hygiene therefore forms primary health prevention strategy because it has been found to be effective in reducing morbidity and mortality especially in children (Ahmadu, Rimamchika, Ibrahim, Nnanubomom, Godiya and Emmanuel, (2013).
In medical terms, personal hygiene involves personal attention by an individual to prevent diseases. It also involves different habits such as washing hands, the entire body, hair care, nails trimming, clean clothing to warm and protect the skin as well as teeth brushing in effort to keep bacteria, virus and fungi away from direct or indirect contact with the body. According to Talukdar and Baruah (2015), the role of health education programme in the school is very important for cognitive, creative and social development of children. An education regarding proper sanitation and hygiene practices are very necessary for the safe, secure and healthy environment so that every child can learn better and face the challenges of future life. Since personal hygiene habits such as washing hands regularly as well as brushing and flossing teeth can help in keeping bacteria, viruses and illness at bay, there are several health guides that can help individuals to achieve healthy goals. In the other hand, people who have poor hygiene habits such as disheveled hair and clothes as well as those with body odor, bad breath, dirty and missing teeth are often seen as unhealthy and may face social discrimination.
According to Ejifugha and Abhafidon, (2014) it is obvious that individual body image influences self esteem, confidence and motivational forces therefore, people who already have low self esteem and especially those with emotional depression often neglect personal hygiene which perpetuate the problem of self image and because they always feel rejected or unacceptable in a social setting. Good personal hygiene practices help in keeping a person healthy, presentable and admirable and it can ensure confidence at the presence of others especially in a crowd. Most people hate to be talked about especially in a negative manner such as being dirty, with dirty clothes, bushy hair, long and untreated nails or having bad body odour. Good personal hygiene promotes good health therefore all external or open wounds should be properly treated and protected from dangerous micro-organisms. For such reasons, children need to be taught the importance of good personal hygiene and the dangers associated with poor hygiene practices so that they can live well in future. It has therefore become necessary to study personal hygiene practices and health of secondary school students in Eket Local Government Area of AkwaIbom State.
The school lays the foundation for making children to know the importance of good personal hygiene practices such as regular bathing, washing of the hands before and after each meal, brushing of teeth at least twice daily, cutting of fingers and toes nails neatly and washing their clothes clean (Talukdar and Baruah, 2015). Personal hygiene is the science of healthy-living of an individual which influences the health and wellbeing of the individual. Its practices include bathing regularly and thoroughly, clothing, washing hands, care of nails, feet and teeth, personal appearance and inculcation of clean habits (Kumar Akoijam, 2015).
Good personal hygiene practices among adolescents have been deeply entrenched as a matter of concern in the school curriculum. According to Ejifugha and Abhafidon(2014), healthy practices encompass dressing and clothing after bathing, use of appropriate cosmetics and hair care. Ahmaduet al (2013) submitted that personal hygiene is referred to as personal care which involves bathing, nail, hair, foot, genital and dental cares as well as washing of clothing among others.
Talukdar and Baruah (2015) carried out a study on prevalence of skin infection and personal hygiene practices amongst primary school children in Kamrup (rural) district of Assam. Result revealed that out of all skin disorders, majority was found to have scabies with the prevalence of 21.7 percent among the students followed by pityriasis which was 19.6 percent, pediculosis with 18.5 percent and tinea with 16 percent among children. The result further revealed that out of 400 children, 337 (84.25%) washed hands before eating, 342 (85.5%) washed after defecation with soap and water. Only 34.25 percent wore footwear, 320 (80%) bathed daily to school, 82.25 percent had the habit of brushing teeth, 47.25 percent changed their clothes regularly whereas 70 percent of them had clean and combed hair. It was recommended that hand washing and bathing should be done regularly each day.
Ejifugha (2014) emphasized on clean clothing as an important aspect of personal hygiene practice. Clean clothing informs looking good, meeting other persons confidently and with high self esteem. Seenivasan et al (2016) referred to personal hygiene as a culture of self care and attention which objectives are to keep the body fit, clean and healthy always. Its practices include regular bathing, washing clothes, dressing neatly, teeth, nails and hair care. Kumar and Akoijam stressed on the needs to wash hands, clothes, feet, hair and teeth and keep them clean in order to prevent infections. Ahmadu et al (2013) disclosed that neat clothing makes the body warm and protected for healthy living.
A study was carried out by Seenivasan et al (2016) on state of personal hygiene among primary school children in Banki Community, Yola, Adamawa State Nigeria. Variables used were the sanitary state of school uniforms, care for nails, fingers and toe nails, teeth and hair. A hundred and fifty respondents were studied but only twenty of them were sampled on the state of sanitation on school uniforms and the analysis of variance (ANOVA) statistic was used for analyzing data obtained for the study. The result revealed that out of 20 sampled children, five (3.4%) were between 5-7 years in age, three (2%) were between 8 – 10 years, two (1.3%) were between 11 – 13 years and 10 (6.7%) were above 13 years of age, and all of them had always appeared in clean school uniforms to school. It means that the sanitary state of dirty/clean school uniforms was based on age of the pupils. It was recommended that parents and the school teach children how to wash their clothes neatly.
Medically, dentists refer teeth care to as oral care. According to Talukdar and Baruah (2015), good personal hygiene practice is not restricted to mere bathing, trimming of hair and nails but it extends to teeth care since the teeth are located inside the mouth through where human beings eat and drink water always. Seenivasan et al (2016) pointed out that teeth care helps in reducing gum infection and decay, avoids or reduces mouth odour. Saud, Awal, Parvin, Zaman and Akbar (2016) remarked that the importance of teeth care cannot be over-emphasized and for reasons of its inclusion into school curriculum under school health programme. It is obvious that every individual consciously or unconsciously opens the mouth when talking and laughing therefore exposing the teeth. Dirty teeth is shameful and odorful, according to Ejifugha (2014), parents and the school are vested with the responsibility of teaching children the importance of brushing teeth so that such habits could be maintained in future. Ahmadu et al (2013) stressed on the needs for maintaining clean teeth right from a child’s formative stage of life. It was also stressed that the dangers associated with coloured and smelly teeth are painful and expensive to arrest.
A study was carried out by Saud et al (2016) on oral hygiene towards awareness and practices among school – going children in Rajshahi Division. It focused on effective health education as a resourceful tool for inculcating good habits of teeth care. The study comprised a sample of 270 subjects based on age range between 4 – 14 years of age. Semi questionnaire was used as research instrument. Within Rajshahi, the subjects were drawn from rural areas of Bangladesh, and the data obtained were analyzed using the SPSS version 16.0. The result showed that out of 270 respondents, 120 (44.44%) were female and 150 (55.56%) were males. Findings reveal poor oral and dental health condition of the survey population and their lack of knowledge and awareness conducive to good oral and dental health. Findings also revealed their reliance on informal sector providers for treatment of oral and dental health due to non-availability of qualified professionals. It was recommended among others that teeth should be brushed regularly everyday to avoid smelling due to saliva and food particles.
Ejifugha and Abhafidon (2014) reported that healthy skills for personal hygiene involve dressing and clothing, physical fitness, rest and exercise, teeth, hair and nails care. Seenivasan et al (2014) considered nail cutting and treatment as an important sanitary habit that can help prevent contacts with germs, bacteria and fungi because the fingers are inserted into the mouth while eating therefore finger nails must be properly cared for. Supported by Ahmadu et al (2013), personal hygiene, which is also referred to as personal care includes the following; bathing with soap, hair, nail, foot, genital and dental cares as well as washing of clothing among others. Grooming is the care given to finger nails and hair.
According to Ahmadu et al (2013), a study was carried out on unkempt nails among primary school pupils in Banki Community. The study focused on clean/neat school uniforms, poor oral hygiene and also unkempt nails. A sample of 150 respondents was drawn from public primary schools within Banki Community through a random sampling technique. The correlational research design was employed, and the physical inspection (observational technique) was used as research instrument while the Pearson’s Product Moment Correlation Statistic was used for analyzing data obtained for the study. Out of 150 pupils studied, 12 (8.0%) were noted for unkempt nails as follows: 6 (4%) were between 5 and 7 years of age, 4 (2.7%) were between 8 and 10 years of age while 2 (1.3%) were between 11 and 13 years of age. The result therefore indicated that the number of pupils with unkempt nails was very minimal and controllable. It was recommended that parents should assist in checking nail care of pupils at home.
KumahAkoijam (2015) studied knowledge of personal hygiene and waterborne diseases and practices of personal hygiene among students of Central Agricultural University, Manipur, India. A sample of 180 students was randomly, selected within the university but only 138 of them responded to questionnaire which represented a response rate of 76 percent. Simple percentage statistic was used for data analysis. Findings indicated that, responses to the practice of washing hands and nails, most of them complied before and after eating and toilet, while only 34.45 of the respondents had the habits of washing hands/nails after work and only 9.4 percent of the respondents washed their hands after playing. About 34.3 percent of the respondents had the habits of biting nails. About 96.4 percent of the respondents treated water by boiling before drinking.
Seenivasan et al (2016) studied the health hygiene status of school children in North Chennai. Two hundred and fifty respondents were randomly selected to participate in the study and a structured questionnaire was used as instrument for data collection. Findings showed that the participants were between the age of 10 and 16, 76.4 percent of them had healthy hygiene practices such as brushing teeth, washing hands, bathing and throwing water in dustbin as well as trimming nails once a week, not biting nails and wearing washed clothes daily. The recommendations indicated that the state of personal hygiene among the students was highly commendable and appreciated by the school authority.