Although the rainy season brings lots of much needed water, greenery and a cooler climate, maintaining a high level of hygiene during monsoon season decreases your risk of exposure to germs and disease.
Healthy Hygiene Tips for the Monsoon Season
Although the rainy season brings lots of much needed water, greenery and a cooler climate, it’s also a time when you need to be extra careful with hygiene. Maintaining good hygiene practices is critical in protecting yourself and your family from germs and diseases which are more likely to be present at this time of year.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
- If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand santiser to help destroy the germs on your hands.
- Ensure that the water you use is filtered, if necessary, and purified before drinking it, or using it in food preparation.
- Make sure that your food is piping hot and cooked thoroughly and avoid eating out where possible.
- Take measures to prevent water becoming stagnant wherever possible and mosquito proof your home.
- Ensure that your typhoid and hepatitis A vaccinations are up-to-date.
Why is Good Hygiene Important?
Monsoon season is a time when there is increased exposure to a range of bacteria, fungi and viruses. This can be because of contamination of water supplies with flood water or just because of higher moisture content of the air. Extra care is required to ensure that the food and water you consume is safe and that any stagnant water is cleared away or protected so it does not become a breeding ground for insects such as mosquitoes, which can carry diseases such as malaria.
What You Should Know
Most common illnesses in monsoon season are caused by water-borne and food-borne diseases such as typhoid, jaundice, diarrhoea, cholera and food poisoning, and vector-borne (insect-carried) diseases like malaria, dengue and chikungunya. Cold and flu are also common illnesses, usually due to fluctuations in the temperature. There could also be an increase in viral infections, with people being affected by conjunctivitis and suffering from acute respiratory infections.
How Good Hygiene Can Help
Maintaining a high level of hygiene during monsoon season decreases your risk of exposure to germs and disease. Wash your hands well with an antibacterial soap before and after preparing or eating food (including any baby feeds). Also wash your hands with soap and water during those times or activities when there is known to be a high risk of germ transfer – after using the toilet, or changing a nappy, clearing out rubbish, general cleaning, caring for someone who is ill, before and after dressing a wound, and after any contact with bodily fluids (e.g. blood, faeces and vomit).
Even if water looks clean, it might not be safe to use, especially during the rainy season. If the water is very dirty, it may be necessary to pre-treat it by filtering or decanting it to remove any visible debris. You will then need to treat the water before you use it for drinking or food preparation to ensure that it is safe, by bringing it to a rolling boil, exposing it to ultraviolet radiation, or adding a suitable disinfectant, such as chlorine.
Water purification tablets are often the easiest, most effective and economic method of purifying water. If you choose to boil water, you should do so for at least 20 minutes to kill the eggs of the germs that spread water-borne diseases. If you purchase bottled water, make sure the seal is not broken and if you’re drinking water in an eatery, ask them to open the bottle at your table so you can see that the seal is not broken.
Also important is to prevent water stagnation in and around houses, offices, workplaces etc. which will help reduce the breeding of mosquitoes that spread vector-borne diseases.
Wherever possible, try to prepare and eat food at home. Avoid eating too many street-side foods like deeply fried fritters, fruits slices and other such snacks, and try to go for freshly cooked foods. Eat food that is piping hot and properly cooked all the way through, and avoid eating raw foods. Use treated or bottled water to wash fruit and vegetables at home before cooking with them.
Reducing the Risk of Diseases
Ensure that you and all family members practise good hygiene at home and ensure that the water you drink and prepare food with is purified, either by boiling (for at least 20 minutes) or another method. Wash your hands with soap and water before eating and handling food, and ensure that any raw fruit and vegetables are properly washed. Refrigerate left over food and avoid eating raw foods such as salads and cut fruits outside your home. Carry a hand sanitiser with you whenever you are away from home and ensure that you and your family are vaccinated against typhoid and hepatitis A.
Install nets for your beds, windows and doors if you live in mosquito-prone areas – the nets should have holes that do not exceed 1.5mm to 2.0 mm in diameter. Use fragrance-free mosquito coils (scented oils can cause allergies), and insecticide sprays with malathion or temephos inside the house (always read the manufacturer’s instructions before use). Eliminate the mosquitoes’ source of breeding by making sure that no water is left to collect in containers in and around the home. Do not let water stagnate in your garden, apartment, complex or neighbourhood, and if bodies of water are part of your landscaping, drain these now. Cover all water sources like wells, tanks, underground sumps and overhead tanks to prevent insect access. If you have pot holes in your locality, try and get together with others in your area, and pour vegetable or mineral oil in them.
Dengue-carrying mosquitoes spread disease during the day, while the malaria-carrying mosquitoes are active in the evening, so it is extremely important to protect yourself round the clock – wear long-sleeved, light clothing to cover up areas of skin.
Avoid wearing damp clothing and socks for prolonged periods of time, as this could result in a fungal infection, which can be uncomfortable and is at risk of spreading.
Good Personal Hygiene
Keep your body clean and dry and shower at least twice a day using an antimicrobial soap to help get rid of dirt and grime, and help protect against body odour. It is also advisable to use antifungal dusting powders two or three times a day in groin areas, below the breast and between the toes of your feet.