Cleanliness is a Bad Habit

Ok, let me rephrase. Over cleanliness is a very BAD habit!

Of late I have been seeing so many patients in our Dermatology OPD with hands which are dry, parched, itchy, irritated and have got cuts. Their history points out to a peculiar habit of washing their hands frequently and as I dig deep into the number of times their hands are subjected to scrubbing, soaps, hand washes, sanitizers, wet tissues etc., it is mind-boggling. Most of these patients wash their hands at least 10-15 times a day, some sheepishly admit it to be 30 and sometimes the accompanying attendant will point it out to be even more!

Most of these patients are highly intelligent or shall I say too intelligent and are perfectionists, highly successful men, and women and somehow the cleanliness bug has bitten them. Even though they do understand the issue they somehow don’t and even on explaining the problem to them, they very reluctantly nod their heads in affirmation.

Now we all see beggars on the road, children running around bare feet, we see Rickshaw pullers, laborers and many more, but, how many times do they wash hands with all these fancy soaps & sanitizers? We all know the answer-hardly…Still, they maintain good health, may be better than what most of us do.

So the logic lies in the fact that God has given us a superb Defense System; what we Doctors have given a fancy name to, ‘Immune System. So we have to get EXPOSED so that our defense, our Army stays on its toes else it gets lethargic or worse, misdirected leading to the “problems of the clean”.

So, friends, cleanliness is good, over cleanliness is very bad, and the next time you want to reach out to that sanitizer bottle which for your information contains 66% alcohol, think twice. You really don’t need it, let your inner immune system take care of the small stuff and as I always quote have ‘Faith in the Lord’.

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