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Hygiene and Your COPD

We all know that hygiene is important for our health, but do we really understand it? The definition of conditions or practices conducive to maintaining health and preventing disease, especially through cleanliness is hygiene. We know that hygiene means cleanliness. It can mean washing our hands after using the toilet, brushing our teeth, and clipping our fingernails regularly. It can mean boiling water to wash or to bathe in. Good hygiene can also mean washing clothes before wearing them. Good hygiene can also affect the emotional health that comes from each of these.

Let’s take a closer look at hygiene and COPD

Hand hygiene

  • Washing hands is most important.
  • After using the toilet, it’s so important to wash your hands. There is a 20 second rule with soap and water. It may seem to be a long time, but really it isn’t.
  • Washing your hands can help you to prevent E. coli, Salmonella, and the Norovirus. Dirty hands can spread these when you touch your cellphone with after using the bathroom and by letting someone else use it. Diseases can be contracted by touching doorknobs, handles and more. Even by flushing the toilet. When you flush, you can use a paper towel and throw it in the garbage (not the toilet) before washing, or by flushing and washing.
  • The importance is to wash your hands frequently and always before handling food.
  • Feces from people and animals can also cause respiratory infections like adenovirus and hand to foot mouth disease.
  • It’s so important to clean behind your fingernails, because that’s a great hiding place for bacteria. Keeping fingernails trimmed is a good practice as well.

Oral hygiene

  • Oral hygiene is brushing your teeth. Be sure to brush well and rinse with mouthwash. Do you have bad breath? Sometimes that is a warning that you have bacteria in your mouth, such as a cavity. This can help to prevent painful cavities as well as other diseases of the mouth and gums, such as periodontal disease, and gingivitis. Dry mouth can cause problems as well.
  • If you are on inhaled medications, you might see white spots in the back of your mouth. That could be thrush, which is a yeast infection. This is also called candida. Plain yogurt can sometimes help to rid the thrush, if not your doctor may need to give you a prescription to clear this up.
  • It’s so important to have your teeth checked and cleaned regularly, according to your dentist’s recommendations. Yes, they can be expensive, but so can cavities that need fillings or crowns. Someday, teeth may have to be pulled and other times dentures may be required.

Eye hygiene

  • Eyes too need to be taken care of, so that you will be able to see.
  • My optometrist says that it’s important to wash your eyes when you wash your face in the morning. Washing the tear ducts helps to keep them open if regular tearing doesn’t.
  • If you wear contacts, be so careful to clean them properly. If not, this can cause bacteria and infection. Sometimes surgery is warranted. If the eyes aren’t cared for, a person can lose their vision.

Hygiene for feet and toes

  • Feet need attention too.
  • Athletes foot is something that we commonly hear about. This can easily be spread from person to person: when wearing the shoes of someone who has athlete’s foot or even by going barefoot in places where others with athlete’s foot have walked on floors and carpets.
  • Feet should be washed daily and between the toes as well.
  • Toenail care is so important. They should be trimmed straight across on a regular basis. Have you heard of ingrown toenails? They can be so painful and taken care of. On your big toes, the toenail can curve and dig right into your toe. It’s important that you get these cut out. Either by you or a podiatrist or your regular doctor might do this as well. If these aren’t taken care of, it’s easy to get infection.
  • Bunions and corns can be very painful. Too short or too tight shoes are often the cause. You can get pads for these or see your podiatrist for other options.
  • There is also gout, that can be so tender and painful. High uric acid found in the blood is often the cause.
  • Diabetics especially, need to watch and care for their feet. Peripheral vascular disease can affect blood flow. Diabetic neuropathy happens when diabetes isn’t controlled, and it affects the nerves. A person loses feeling in his or her feet, which often leaves the feet numb or with no feeling. At this time, the person might not feel hot and cold, they might not feel pain. This can be dangerous. They might develop sores, so be sure to wash and dry your feet thoroughly.

Head to Toe hygiene

  • A bath or shower is so very important for overall hygiene. It’s so important to wash the body and free it from dead skin, bacteria and body odor.
  • Washing hair helps to remove all of the oils, dandruff and cells.
  • Be sure to wash the body well. The outer genital areas are very important because of secretions and possible infections.

How does hygiene relate to COPD?

Hygiene is so important for a person with COPD. Germs and bacteria can lead to pneumonia or respiratory infections. When a person has a weakened immune system, it can be very serious. We are told to wash frequently and to avoid others who have a cold, or other illness. It’s possible to infect ourselves by not being on top of our overall health, so we need to take care of us. If you aren’t feeling good or are having problems with any part of your body, do see your doctor, as he or she is the only one qualified to diagnose and treat you.

There are so many other things that can be included with hygiene. Do you have anything else that you could tell us about hygiene and your COPD? If so, please share. We can learn so much from each other.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Water, Sanitation & Environmentally-related Hygiene | Hygiene | Healthy Water | CDC. (n.d.). Retrieved June 12, 2019, from
  2. Hygiene-related Diseases | Hygiene | Healthy Water | CDC. (n.d.). Retrieved June 12, 2019, from


  • Janet Plank moderator author
    3 months ago

    Hi BeverlyDeMarco,
    This is something that many COPDers experience, so know that you aren’t alone.
    Have you discussed this with your doctor? What is his/her recommendation, do they want you to wear it the whole time?
    We finally have a detachable shower head that I use. It helps so much. I can control where the water is going and since it’s hanging below the chin level, there is little chance of moisture getting on my cannula, unless I spray water. We do have a higher place for the shower head to be for my husband to use.
    My heart goes out to you, with the struggles that you are going through. I’m glad that you have a shower stool. It has made such a difference here.
    A robe that I can put on when finished showering helps so much too, as does getting out of the moist bathroom.
    Janet (author/site moderator)

  • BeverlyDeMarco
    3 months ago

    Hi Barbara, Just read your post about hygiene, and bathing. I AM STILL HAVING TROUBLE TAKING A SHOWER WITH THE CANOLA OXYGEN TUBE ON MY FACE, IT GETS ME SOOOOOOO OUT OF BREATHE, I LEAVE THE FAN ON AND WINDOW OPEN, ITS VERY VERY EXHAUSTING.. WHAT AM I DOING WRONG? I also have a shower stool in there to sit but I am so tired when I’m done showering. Don’t like the bathtub either.

  • Janet Plank moderator author
    3 months ago

    Hello BeverlyDeMarco
    I’m sorry that you are having trouble taking a shower with your nasal cannula. Others have had some difficulties. What problems are you experiencing? Is your cannula staying in your nose? Are you getting moisture from tubing? Do let us know.
    I leave the window and door open. It’s good that you can leave your window open and a fan is so nice to have. It makes quite a difference with the humidity.
    That shower stool probably makes a big difference. I have a shower chair which I really like. Do get your air before doing alot of moving around. A towel or something around your shoulders would help to prevent you getting chilled.
    I hope that you are doing better. Let us know.
    Janet (author/site moderator)

  • bob54
    3 months ago

    Hi Janet
    This was a great article about a subject l am sure most people are unaware of.Personally have been struggling with r. a for years as well as clod so know a bit about auto immune issues already .Still reinforced what l do to maintain cleanliness. My wife often says you should have been a surgeon with how l was my hands,probably would have if it wasn’t for those missing iq points!Thanks again for the thought and effort that went into your post…

  • Janet Plank moderator author
    3 months ago

    Thank you bobmmm54. It’s nice to hear from you.
    If you have any thoughts or suggestions, please share.
    I hope you have a breathe-easy day/night!
    Janet (site moderator/author)

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