(Personal) hygiene is the set of measures taken to ensure a person's cleanliness. The term "hygiene" is derived from Hygeia, the Greek goddess of health, cleanliness and sanitation.
Personal hygiene typically includes:
- Washing the hands with water and soap
- Washing the face
- Washing all parts of the body (bathing, showering), with the hands and/or tools such as washcloths, sponges, bath brushes (see also lathering and scrubbing)
- Shampooing, drying and dressing the hair
- Brushing/flossing the teeth and other oral care
- Cleaning the ears and nose
- Trimming, shaving or epilation of hair and body hair
- Trimming and cleaning of fingernails and toenails
- Cleaning/washing the anal/genital area after toilet use
- Hygienic measures at menstruation
- Hygienic measures after sexual intercourse
- Keeping clothing clean, wearing the appropriate clothing for different tasks, changing clothing
- Seeing a doctor, seeing a dentist
- Healthy eating
Infants and small children, people with special needs and elderly people often require assistance in their hygiene. As a child grows older, they are taught to do more and more tasks of hygiene by themselves, first under supervision and inspection, later completely onto themselves.
In cases where highest cleanliness is required, sterilization and/or disinfection is used.
Excessive body hygiene can be unhealthy. The hygiene hypothesis states that too much hygiene in early childhood can be a cause of allergies. Excessive application of soaps, creams, and ointments can irritate the skin and can adversely affect certain of the body's natural processes.
Hygiene in adult kink and fiction
Poor hygiene can be a reason for punishment, as well as for suffering the humiliation of being cleaned/washed/scrubbed on the spot by one's parent/governess/dominant/etc. This is a popular scenario in adult fiction and kinky (BDSM) play. Regular or irregular inspections for cleanliness can be part of the story or character's relationship. In adult relationships, punishment for poor hygiene may be part of a punishment agreement.
In ageplay and diaper domination, the top or "adult" partner will take responsibility for much of the bottom's or adult child's or adult baby's hygiene without punitive connotations — hygiene is one of the key elements of such play.
Various forms of kinky play also involve sensual or erotic activities under the pretext of hygiene, such as washing, shaving, oiling etc. the nude body including or focusing on the erogenous zones. Likewise cleaning the interior parts of a person's anal or genital area can be done under the pretext of hygiene (see also medical play, enema and klismaphilia).