Skin is a wonderful thing – it keeps your insides from falling out, helps you warm up when you’re cold (and cool you off when you’re hot), it lets you feel things by touch, and above all, it protects you.
And what does your skin ask for in return? Just a little care and consideration.
Oh, and did you know that your skin is the largest organ in your body?
Why be kind to your Skin?
Your skin is constantly protecting you. It keeps infections out of your body and helps keep you from getting sick.
So when you take care of your skin, you’re helping it do its job. One simple way to take care of your skin is to keep it clean.
Keeping your hands clean is especially important because your hands can spread germs to other parts of your body.
Germs are found all over the world and in all kinds of places. You might have heard of three types of germs – bacteria, viruses and fungi.
Germs are tiny living things that can harm our bodies, and sometimes make us sick. They are so small and sneaky that they creep into our bodies without being noticed. In fact, germs are so tiny that you need a microscope to see them.
But not all germs are bad for us – some of them are helpful and help keep things in balance. For example, good bacteria live in our intestines and help us use the nutrients in the food we eat and make waste from what’s left over.
What can I do?
One really easy way to look after your body is by giving it a good regular wash to get rid of all the dirt and germs that we pick up every day. If there’s one thing germs are scared of – it’s soap!
When washing your hands, use water that’s comfortably warm. Wet your hands, then lather up with a mild soap. Remember to rub everywhere, including your palms, wrists, between your fingers and under the nails. Rinse well, dry thoroughly with a clean towel, and you’re done!
When you have a shower or bath, again use water that’s warm, but not too hot. Use a gentle soap to clean your body. And don’t forget to wash under your arms and behind your ears!
Your face needs attention, especially as you enter puberty when the skin on your face gets more oily. It’s a good idea to wash your face at least once or twice daily with warm water and a mild cleanser.
And always scrub after using the toilet, or if you’ve been playing in the garden or with pets.
And don’t forget to scrub if you’re about to have something to eat as you don’t want to put germs in your mouth as well as the food!
It may be hard when watching a scary movie, but make sure you don’t bite your nails. Germs love hiding underneath your nails, so this is another way for germs to get into your mouth!
Once you’ve scrubbed, make sure you dry thoroughly. Germs love warm wet places. And don’t forget your toes after swimming or a bath. If you don’t, you might get athlete’s foot, which is a horrible infection that makes your feet itch.
Don’t forget your teeth
They need a good scrub as well, even after eating a healthy meal.
It’s important to brush your teeth properly and regularly, or you’ll get smelly breath and your teeth may start to hurt.
Did you know that elephants go through six sets of teeth in their lifetime, but we only get two?
So you better look after them.
It was only about 100 years ago that someone finally created a minty cream to clean teeth. Before then, people didn’t take much care of their teeth. As people got older, their teeth would rot away and be very painful. And to get rid of a toothache, they had their teeth pulled out.
Over time, people learned that cleaning their teeth was important, but it took a long time before everyone could afford toothbrushes and toothpaste. So while you’re swishing that minty-fresh paste around your mouth, think about what people used long ago to clean teeth:
- ground-up chalk or charcoal
- lemon juice
- ash from a fire
- a mix of tobacco and honey
When you brush, you don’t need a lot of toothpaste – just squeeze out a bit the size of a pea. It’s not a good idea to swallow the toothpaste, so be sure to rinse and spit after brushing.
Brush at least twice a day — after breakfast and before bedtime. If you can, brush after lunch or after sweet snacks. Brushing properly breaks down plaque.
Brush all of your teeth, not just the front ones. Have your dentist show you the best way to brush to get your teeth clean without damaging your gums.
Take your time while brushing. Spend at least 2 or 3 minutes each time you brush. If you have trouble keeping track of the time, use a timer or play a recording of a song you like to help pass the time.
Be sure your toothbrush has soft bristles (the package will tell you if they’re soft). You should replace your toothbrush every 3 months; some brushes come with bristles that change colour when it’s time to change them.
Learning how to floss your teeth is also useful to help keep them healthy. It feels weird the first few times you do it, but pretty soon you’ll be a pro. Slip the dental floss between each tooth and along the gum line gently once a day. The floss gets rid of food that’s hidden where your toothbrush can’t get it, no matter how well you brush.
You can also brush your tongue to help keep your breath fresh!