5 Tips for Healthier Nails

Healthy fingernails are a sign of wellness and beauty. There are several ways to get healthier fingernails.

1. Try a Biotin Supplement

Most people who eat a varied, healthy, and balanced diet do not need dietary supplements to ensure healthy nails. However, some people naturally have weak nails, or they lack proper nutrition, which contributes to fragility.

Vitamin B7, biotin, is an essential nutrient in milk, eggs, bananas, and other foods. The vitamin is crucial to hair and nail health. If a person has a deficiency, their hair may thin, and their nails might become brittle and weak.

A biotin supplement can help people with a deficiency, but it may also help those with naturally weak nails. Some studies suggest biotin helps promote nail growth and health.

2. Take a Break From Manicures and Polish

Many people enjoy manicures and dressing their nails up with polish. While healthy nails can often handle the abuse and coverage, it is still a good idea to let them breathe every so often.

Overworking your nails can cause damage, and it may weaken their integrity. There is nothing wrong with having an occasional manicure, but when a manicurist shapes and works your nails too much, you can open yourself up to greater infection risks.

Also, choose an acetone-free nail polish remover, and avoid acrylic nails. Using harsh chemicals or applying false nails can weaken the nail's structure and lead to infections.

3. Moisturize Your Cuticles

People often underestimate the importance of nail cuticles. Cuticles work like caulk around a shower; they keep damaging bacteria and other elements away from the nail bed.

Many people trim their cuticles or push them down. Being too aggressive with your cuticles can damage them. Damaging a cuticle can open your nails and fingers up to infection. Signs of infection include:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Pus

Also, do not believe that visiting a professional manicurist to have your cuticles trimmed eliminates the risk of infection. Even professionals can make mistakes.

4. Practice Good Nail Hygiene

If you want healthy and strong nails, it is best to maintain good nail hygiene. Keep nails trimmed and clean.

In the past, long nails were fashionable. Unfortunately, long nails are also more prone to breakage and infection than shorter nails.

Today, shorter, more natural nails are in fashion, which is better for your health. Keeping your nails trimmed reduces the risks of snagging or breaking. It also helps keep the underside of the nail cleaner.

A nail brush allows you to clean between the nail and nail bed without aggressively opening or widening the gap. You do not need to scrub vigorously. Gently scrubbing back and forth with the brush will clean your nails without an increased risk of injury or infection.

5. Wear Gloves and Take Infections Seriously

Whenever you are working with your hands, wear gloves. Gloves protect against the elements and guard against dirt, grime, and accompanying bacteria. However, even the most diligent individual might experience an infection.

If you get a nail infection, seek treatment. Nail infections can spread if not corrected. Also, some people are at a greater risk of severe infections because of medications or health conditions.

Nail hygiene matters to overall well-being. For more advice on healthy nails, contact a local dermatologist.

5 Ingredients for Healthy, Glowing Skin This Summer

Summertime is finally here, and while you may welcome the warmth and sunshine with open arms, there are a few things you could likely do away with, such as breakouts, dull skin, a sweaty shine, clogged pores and more. Yes, with summer comes the intense heat and, depending on where you live, oppressing humidity, neither of which is excellent for your complexion. The good news is that you can combat the potentially adverse effects of environmental stressors simply by changing up your skincare ingredients. So which ingredients should you be using? Check out experts’ top picks for healthy, glowing skin all summer.

Niacinamide

Niacinamide — more commonly known as vitamin B3 — is the powerhouse of skincare ingredients. A key ingredient in almost all SPF products, niacinamide prevents damage caused by UV rays and boosts the skin’s natural barrier function. Considering preventing UV damage should be a primary goal for skin care this summer, B3 is one ingredient you want to add to your repertoire — that is, if your products don’t contain it already.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a powerful ingredient for combatting collagen damage and hyperpigmentation caused by prolonged sun exposure. It does this by using its antioxidants to inhibit the production of melanin and stimulate collagen production at the same time. With vitamin C in your arsenal, you can keep your skin wrinkle and fine-line-free not just through the season but also for years to come.

Salicylic Acid

Humidity wreaks havoc on the skin in several ways throughout the summer, one of which is by causing intense oil buildup beneath the surface. Salicylic acid is oil-soluble, meaning it can cut through the oils on your skin and exfoliate deep within the pores to remove any blockages. If your skin becomes shiny with oil beginning in late May to early June, and if it is prone to acne breakouts because of it, add this acid to the list of ingredients with which to pamper your complexion this summer.

Hyaluronic Acid

A combination of constant air conditioning and intense heat can quickly dry out the skin, leaving your complexion looking dull at best and downright parched at worst. To keep your skin from feeling (and looking) like a sheet of sandpaper, add hyaluronic acid to your daily skincare regime. This ingredient not only boosts hydration beneath the skin’s surface but also, it helps the skin retain its moisture. Not only that, but hyaluronic acid has been known to make the skin appear plumper because of its water retention abilities.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Though not an ingredient in and of itself, alpha hydroxy acids are a class of ingredients that work wonders on the skin, especially during the summer months. Acids in this class include glycolic acid, citric acid and lactic acid. These acids have gentle exfoliating properties, which help to remove dead skin cells from the skin’s surface without damaging the newly formed cells beneath. This careful balance helps to prevent the over-drying of the skin during what should be maintenance and healing processes.

Achieving and maintaining healthy skin throughout the summer months is a tough feat. However, with these five ingredients in your arsenal, you can accomplish what so many others before you deemed “impossible” — a beautiful, even and glowing complexion all summer long.

What Happens When You Use Expired Sunscreen?

Sunscreen is an essential part of protecting your skin and keeping it healthy. It shouldn’t be something you only use during summer months or beach vacations, but it’s not always easy to remember to apply it. That’s why many families end up with a bottle of sunscreen that’s still half full when it expires. So is expired sunscreen bad for you?

You Shouldn’t Use Expired Sunscreen

The quick answer is that you should never use sunscreen past the expiration date. Dermatologists universally agree on that. If you’ve had the same bottle for over three years, it’s officially time to replace it.

The fact that you’re interested in wearing sunscreen more often is a good thing. Get set up for success by checking the date on sunscreen in the house and tossing any expired ones.

Sun Protection That Doesn’t Work

The first reason to skip expired sunscreen is that old products lose their effectiveness. After several years, key ingredients stop working the way they should, so they don’t reflect sunlight properly or provide the necessary coverage. All types of sunscreen have this problem, both chemical and mineral versions.

Without a generous layer of high-quality sunscreen, your skin is vulnerable to many types of damage:

  • Greater risk of skin cancer
  • Faster aging
  • More wrinkles
  • Drier and thicker skin
  • Less skin elasticity

Using expired sunscreen would be like having a home security system but leaving the front door open all night. It doesn’t do the one job it’s supposed to: keep skin safe from damaging ultraviolet rays. Frankly, your skin deserves better than that.

Problems With Bacteria and Rashes

Another reason to avoid using sunscreen that’s past its expiration date is that it can cause breakouts, even if your skin isn’t normally sensitive. As the ingredients separate, they can even lead to allergic reactions.

One reason for irritation is germs inside the bottle. After years of beach trips and sweaty hands, sunscreen can end up with a bacteria problem. You can tell when this happens because the sunscreen will start to smell funny.

Signs Your Sunscreen Isn’t Working

Besides the expiration date on the bottle, there are other reasons why sunscreen can stop working. For example, leaving the bottle in direct sunlight for too long can ruin it, which means the SPF rating isn’t accurate anymore. Here are several signs that can mean something is wrong with your sunscreen:

  • Clumps
  • Sandy texture
  • Weird smells
  • Watery consistency
  • Separated ingredients
  • Different color (e.g. yellow instead of white)

To keep this from happening to a new bottle of sunscreen, store it at room temperature, not too hot or too cold. At the beach, wrap it in a small towel or keep it in the shade. Don’t leave sunscreen in your car’s storage compartment and expect it to last.

The Right Amount of Sunscreen

If you’re running into the problem of expired sunscreen, it probably means your family isn’t using enough. According to the Mayo Clinic, the right amount to use (per person) for liberal application is one ounce each time. That’s the size of a shot glass.

One ounce is the amount needed to cover your arms, hands, neck, ears and face. You should apply a generous layer every time you leave the house, even on cloudy days. A 50-ounce bottle of sunscreen should only last 1 1/2–2 months if you’re doing things right.

7 Myths About Sun Care That Put Your Skin in Danger!

By now, reminding you to wear sunscreen probably seems cliché. After all, everyone knows you’re supposed to wear it at the beach, right? Unfortunately, many people get confused about the reason you need sun protection. Here are seven of the biggest myths about sun care.

You Can’t Get a Sunburn on Cloudy Days: False

At least one friend or family member always tells you you’re exaggerating when you use sunscreen on cloudy days. “You can’t get a sunburn when it’s overcast,” they say. Stick to your guns! You can definitely get sunburned on cloudy, snowy or rainy days. Over 90% of ultraviolet rays can go through clouds and burn your skin.

The Purpose of Sunscreen Is To Prevent Sunburns: Partially True

Many people get confused about the reason you should wear sunscreen. While it’s true that you want to avoid sunburns, UV rays can damage your skin long before it starts to turn red. The main reason to wear sunscreen is to prevent skin cancer. Protecting yourself from UV rays by using sunscreen daily can reduce your risk of skin cancer by a whopping 40–50%!

All-Day Sunscreen Protects You All Day: False

Sunscreen bottles that claim “all-day protection” are overpromising what their products can do. Even though the sunscreen itself may reflect UV rays for many hours, the protective layer wears off in a few hours. According to the FDA, you should reapply sunscreen at least every two hours — more frequently if you’re sweating.

Sunscreen Gets in the Way of Vitamin D: True

If you’re covered from head to toe with sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, a long-sleeve shirt and sunglasses, it’s true that your body probably isn’t making a ton of vitamin D. Surprisingly, experts say that it doesn’t matter. It’s more important for you to prevent skin cancer by wearing sunscreen.

Many foods in the U.S. have vitamin D added to them. So if your doctor thinks you need extra vitamin D to help with bone strength, it’s pretty easy to take a supplement and get your levels up

People With Tan Skin Don’t Need Sun Protection: False

Everyone needs sun care. It doesn’t matter if you have light or dark skin or blue or brown eyes. UV rays damage any kind of skin! Of course, people with lighter skin need to be especially careful to stay sun safe.

Also, don’t skip your lips. Lips and fingers are often overlooked for sun protection, but they’re just as vulnerable to UV damage

Sunglasses Can Help Prevent Cataracts: True

Sunglasses aren’t just fashion accessories. Keeping UVA and UVB rays out of your eyes is one of the best ways to prevent cataracts down the road. The color of sunglasses doesn’t matter; the important thing is 100% UVA and UVB protection.

You Don’t Need Sunscreen Indoors: False

Unless your home or office has windows that are treated with UV coatings, ultraviolet rays can still travel through glass and hurt your skin. If you work long hours near a window, apply sunscreen. Another option is to close the curtains between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Many health professionals recommend turning sun care into part of your daily routine. After having breakfast and brushing your teeth in the morning, put on sunscreen. That way, you can stay safe when you have to run errands.

Stop Using Body Lotion on Your Beautiful Face!

Do you use body lotion on your face? If so, stop!

Body lotions can easily clog your pores and make you feel uncomfortable, especially if you already have oily skin. Trust me on this — you would literally be better off using nothing at all. Fortunately, there are great alternatives that still make you feel sexy, don’t cost an arm and a leg, and don’t take long to apply.

Why Body Lotion Is a Bad Choice for Your Face

Body lotion and facial moisturizers are two very different products with completely different goals. Think about it for a second — Your face has to deal with things during the day that the rest of your skin normally doesn’t, including intense sun rays, makeup, dirt and sweat.

1. Your Face Is More Sensitive Than Your Body

Women have far more sweat-producing glands in the face than any other part of the body. These glands are sensitive to hormone changes and irritation, meaning that you have to treat them with extra care compared to the rest of your skin. Also, your facial skin is thinner than flesh in other areas of the body, so it’s more delicate.

What this means is that products that don’t normally irritate your arms or legs can often irritate your face. This is especially true for those luxurious body butters that smell so good. Irresistible fragrances are amazing when you’re giving your legs some TLC, but they’re often a problem for the sensitive skin of the face.

2. Body Lotion Isn’t Designed To Protect or Nourish Your Face

Body lotions generally focus on minimizing spider veins, reducing the appearance of cellulite, or toning and firming your skin. They contain ingredients designed to add moisture to dry skin and smooth rough areas such as your elbows or toes.

On the other hand, face lotions almost do the opposite. They focus on moisturizing your face while also keeping pores clear. The goal is to minimize wrinkles, dark spots and the appearance of pores.

3. Face Moisturizers Avoid Irritating Your Skin

Even the ingredients on facial moisturizers are better for a gorgeous complexion.  To avoid irritating the delicate skin of the face, these products should have natural extracts that are gentler on you.

Other ingredients may help specifically with wrinkles, such as hyaluronic acid and peptides for collagen production. Many facial moisturizers have sunblock to help protect your face against UV rays during the day.

What You Should Use for Facial Care and Moisturizing Instead

There are many good options for facial care, and they don’t have to be expensive. You can even improvise face moisturizer using natural ingredients. Here are a few favorites:

  • Aloe gel: Great moisturizer that soothes irritated skin.
  • Shea butter: Luxurious butter for your face but also lightweight.
  • Rose essential oil: Gentle oil that softens and hydrates your face.
  • Rose water: Calming liquid that helps with inflammation and redness.
  • Jojoba oil: Anti-inflammatory oil that repairs and firms facial skin.

Don’t get me wrong, I love silky-smooth body lotion just as much as the next girl. It helps me sleep like a baby when I massage it into my tired feet. But I don’t use it on my face.

Beauty Pageants and Body Positivity

The efficacy of beauty pageants is often debated. Some people argue that pageants contribute to self-esteem and self-worth, while others say the process is degrading and can lead to prolonged and permanent psychological issues. 

According to pageant operators, the purpose of these events is to promote body positivity and to encourage self-care, but are pageants doing anything to ensure girls and women of all shapes, sizes, colors, and creeds are viewed through an objective lens?

Efforts Toward Change

In recent years, the world has witnessed transgender participants both disqualified and welcomed to compete in pageants. Additionally, many pageants are now presenting more diversified talent, and efforts have been made to include pageantry options for plus-sized individuals. Finally, the Miss America pageant eliminated its swimsuit competition in 2018. While many positive changes have occurred and continue to occur, are they enough to distract from the pedestal of commercialism that seems to dictate the terms of beauty?

A Steep Hill To Climb

It is impossible to ignore the underlying problem of conventional beauty pageants: women are rated on their appearance, which dictates their success. It is a cynical message, to say the least. The idea that a select few women represent the cultural ideal of beauty and that all women must alter their appearance to conform to such standards if they wish to be deemed beautiful is ludicrous and insulting.

A platform where women compete based on appearance is degrading, and it has a long history of promoting body-shaming, low-self-worth, and eating disorders. While pageants stand by their mission to promote body positivity, the reality is counter to the desire.

Winners of beauty pageants might feel the sense of self-worth and accomplishment that comes from taking home a prize and trophy but is that self-worth built on the individual presence or outsider appreciation. 

Finding Worth From the Inside Out

Beauty pageants are trying to create more inclusive environments, and some of the messaging is starting to include a more body-positive focus. However, the presence and popularity of pageants are still problematic from a self-esteem standpoint. As a woman, the constant and daily battle is proving you are more than your body.

The sexualization and objectification of the female form is nothing new; it is engrained in society. Pageants epitomize the belief that physical form means more than psychological value. While telling women to look inward to find their beauty and power is simple, it is not a straightforward process. 

Women are bombarded every day with magazines, social commentary, and any number of mediums and personal relationships telling them how to look and act. The idea of physical beauty becomes an obsession, and unfortunately, pageants continue to promote it.

There is no way a beauty pageant can ever promote the idea that inner beauty — confidence, intelligence, compassion, etc. — is more valuable than external beauty because it is a competition based on physical attributes above all else.

Realizing All Women Are Beautiful

All women, all people really, are beautiful; it is a message everyone should get behind. Your physical appearance does not and should not represent your worth to yourself or society. Your goal in life should be to be as healthy and happy as possible so that you can live as long as possible.

Beauty pageants are trying to change. Still, as long as they promote physical worth as equivalent to self-worth, they continue to fail. 

How do you feel about recent beauty pageant changes, and do you think it's enough?

Personal Sleep: Understanding the Best and Worst Ways To Sleep for You

For most people, finding a sleep position is about finding the most comfortable position possible. Sometimes, you end up sprawled out across the mattress on your stomach, and other times, on your side with your knees tucked into your chest. However, despite the various options, you likely favor one position over others, and that position will typically fall into one of three categories: back, side, or stomach sleeper. Which position is right or wrong depends on the individual.

The Back or Supine Position

Sleeping on one’s back is often touted as the superior sleep position because it reduces stress on the body, improving muscle or joint pain symptoms. Additionally, adjustments to this position, like raised feet, can reduce swelling and risks associated with congestive heart failure. However, the supine position is not for everyone.

People who struggle to breathe at night or are diagnosed with sleep apnea will find this position challenging and even life-threatening. The position allows the tongue and lower jaw to shift backward, potentially obstructing the airway. Sleeping on the back can also lead to louder snoring.

The Side or Lateral Position

Sleeping on one’s side, either the left or the right, can circumvent the potential problems of the supine position. Many side sleepers find it easier to breathe in the lateral position and report less snoring and reduced sleep apnea symptoms. Additionally, for individuals with joint or knee pain, especially when it affects one side more than the other, sleeping on the opposite side with a pillow between the knees can relieve pain and improve sleep.

The primary cons of sleeping in the lateral position are increased pressure, shifting organs, and the potential of increased shoulder, hip, and lower back pain. When you sleep on your side, gravity automatically pulls on your internal organs, putting pressure on the heart from the lungs. The effects of pressure on the heart include heart strain and increased kidney output.

The Stomach or Prone Position

Not many people sleep on their stomachs. The prone position often requires the head to be turned to either side, with the arms in any number of positions and the legs straight out. The advantages of prone sleep include the avoidance of many of the supine problems and the organ shifts of the lateral position. Additionally, a prone position can provide greater comfort, especially when the sleeping surface is not ideal.

However, the prone position is not the best position to sleep because of the risks of neck, shoulder, and back injuries. The need to twist the neck to one side or the other puts pressure on the neck, shoulders, and upper back. It can also make it hard to breathe. Sleeping on one’s stomach means the body’s weight is restricting the motion of the ribs and pressing down on the lungs, making it hard to breathe.

Which sleep position is best? Unfortunately, there is no straight answer because everyone is unique. You might not have a problem breathing at night, meaning that a supine position is superior, or you might struggle with knee pain, making a lateral position more favorable. Essentially, the position that is best for you is the one that allows the most comfortable and uninterrupted night’s sleep. You can visit a sleep specialist if you want a more specific answer.

What is your favorite sleep position?

The Benefits of Vitamin C For Your Skin: A Simple Guide

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory; it is these underlying advantages that result in comparisons of Vitamin C to the holy grail of skincare. The question: is there evidence to support the rumors? According to the research, vitamin C can brighten complexion, repair skin damage, prevent premature aging, heal wounds, and improve the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. If vitamin C is the holy grail, how do you take advantage of it?

Benefits of Vitamin C for Your Skin

Your body cannot make vitamin C on its own, which is why it is necessary to include the vitamin in your diet through foods or supplements. Vitamin C is capable of incredible things, including:

  • Counteracting sun damage
  • Improving overall immunity
  • Treating skin conditions, like psoriasis, acne, scars, wrinkles, and fine lines

How To Take Advantage of Vitamin C

If you have heard enough, it's time for you to make your skin glow. What you eat and apply can help you achieve that happy, glowing complexion of your dreams. Vitamin C can be found in sources such as oranges, grapefruits, papaya, lemons, limes, berries, and fortified cereals, like yogurt and granola. The highest food sources of the vitamin are found in citrus fruits. It is these foods that are particularly powerful when used as skin-care ingredients, which leads to the other source of vitamin C in topical treatments.

What Skin Conditions Can Vitamin C Help With?

In general, vitamin C can help reduce the effects of several conditions, including acne and premature aging. However, the full impact of vitamin C is achieved when you consume or use enough of it, and there are plenty of ways to get enough of the vitamin. If you want to consume vitamin C in your diet, focus on fruits and vegetables; if you want to include it in what you drink, look to orange juice. However, if you want to use vitamin C at high and effective levels, look to supplements and topical treatments. 

Vitamin C, when applied topically, accelerates collagen and elastin production. Using topical treatments helps to keep skin firm and plump, ensuring a youthful appearance and preventing premature aging. 

Every skin treatment requires adherence to the instructions to achieve desired results. However, before using any skincare supplement, check with your dermatologist to ensure your skin is capable of the regimen.

After following the basic steps of the vitamin C topical application, how do you ensure that you are getting the most out of this little beauty treasure? No matter the technique, choosing the right Vitamin C-based skincare products, the proper application technique, and making sure you are adding the proper amounts to your diet, you will be rewarded with improved, smooth, and glowing skin.

Obviously, vitamin C is not the only thing you need to ensure healthy and beautiful skin. A dermatologist can help you determine the right creams and treatments to achieve your best skin. However, vitamin C is a highly effective vitamin, and it does provide several research-backed benefits when applied or consumed correctly.

What do you think of vitamin C as a skincare holy grail?

The Unique Advantages of a Humidifier

Humidifiers work by vaporizing liquid to add to the moisture level in your home. While these devices might not be paramount in the warmer, more humid months of the year, they play a critical role in your house and even health during the winter. 

People often undervalue the significance of moisture levels in their homes, often equating moisture with problems, such as mold. Still, despite moisture causing some complications, at adequate levels — no higher than 50% — moisture content can help maintain the house's structure and the people, pets, and plants inside. 

The idea of bringing a tool into your home to add moisture to specific areas can seem a bit strange, but it is beneficial. Before you decide to forego purchasing a humidifier, consider the advantages of using one.

Prevent Dry Skin 

Did you know that it is normal for moisture levels in your home to dip below 30% when using forced air heating? Your skin begins to lose its moisture at such levels, resulting in dry, tight, itchy, and flaky skin. 

Your hands and lips are especially vulnerable to losing moisture and becoming dehydrated. The hands have fewer oil glands than other parts of the body, so they have less protection against dry air. The lips are more sensitive with more tender skin, making it easier for them to become chapped and cracked. 

A humidifier helps return some of the lost moisture in the air, providing relief for your skin. Applying hand lotion and chapstick can also help mitigate damage in the colder, drier months.

Ease Sinus Symptoms 

The winter and drier climates are notorious for drying out sinuses and nasal passages. The excess dryness can lead to sinus pressure, headaches, bloody noses, and discomfort. 

While many people believe that humidity will only worsen stuffiness and sinus issues, the contrary is true. Maintaining optimal humidity levels throughout your home contribute to healthy sinus and mucus function, reducing the risks of sinus-related problems. 

A humidifier permits the ease of breathing because it encourages the free movement of mucus. Additionally, it reduces the risks of a bloody nose and sinus headaches.

Reduce Spread of Germs and Bacteria

The National Academy of Sciences found that dry conditions promote the survival and transmission of the influenza virus. Therefore, using a humidifier to maintain optimal moisture levels can reduce the risk of spreading viruses, germs, and bacteria. 

Humidity does not permit the spread of bacteria through the air as much as dry conditions. Moisture in the air makes it heavier and harder to navigate at a molecular level. With appropriate moisture levels, viruses cannot spread as far and wide, meaning humidifiers can reduce the risk of infection. 

However, do not count on humidifiers to eliminate all risks. You will still need to focus on hygiene — regularly bathing and washing your hands and taking necessary precautions like receiving vaccinations. 

Provide Additional Warmth 

Aside from the health benefits of using a humidifier, the device also provides environmental advantages, such as providing greater warmth. Research suggests that dry air typically feels chillier than moist air. 

HVAC professionals recommend using humidifiers in combination with forced air heat to combat feeling overly cold. Additionally, using a humidifier can help reduce the strain on your HVAC system. 

While the general principle of homeownership is to avoid moisture in the house, it should be changed to the avoidance of excess moisture. Humidifiers add a beneficial amount of moisture to an otherwise dry space, helping to relieve wintertime ailments. 

Do you use a humidifier? Why or why not? 

Are You Using Too Much Disinfectant?

One question that has popped up during the coronavirus pandemic is whether it’s bad to disinfect. Does getting rid of germs around the house weaken your immune system?

Protect Your Health Without Going to Extremes

According to many health professionals, the idea that your immune system suffers in a clean home is just a myth. There’s no reason to think that cleaning and disinfecting are bad for your family. Keeping your kitchen clean, vacuuming carpets, dusting furniture and disinfecting bathroom surfaces are all good for staying healthy.

It is possible to overdo disinfecting, but the risks are different from what you think. Disinfecting too much is dangerous because of the side effects of the cleaning chemicals you use, not because of your immune system.

Keep Disinfectant Chemicals Away From Your Skin and Food

At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, calls to poison control centers in the U.S. increased by 20% practically overnight. Some families exposed themselves to serious health problems by using disinfectants in dangerous ways:

  • Never wash food with bleach or other disinfectants

  • Never apply disinfectant chemicals to your bare skin

  • Never breathe chemical vapors on purpose

  • Never gargle with any type of cleaning chemical

  • Never soak clothing in disinfectants or use chemicals in your washing machine

Disinfectants are only designed for cleaning hard surfaces.

Be Balanced With Hand Sanitizer

Alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be a lifesaver when you’re at the supermarket or in public, but you should be careful not to overuse it. Too much sanitizer can irritate your skin or trigger eczema. If possible, avoid sanitizers that contain antibiotics such as triclosan.

At work and home, go with soap and water. Many antibacterial soaps have hydrating agents that keep your hands from drying out.

Follow Safety Tips When Using Disinfectants

How can you stay safe and keep your family safe when using disinfectants? These tips can help protect you:

  • Follow label directions: Many people think that if the bottle says one capful, then two capfuls are twice as effective. A stronger concentration doesn’t improve cleaning! All it does is potentially expose you to skin irritation and other health problems.
  • Wear gloves: Many cleaning and disinfecting products can be absorbed into your skin. The best way to protect yourself is to wear gloves when wiping down countertops or cleaning bathroom surfaces.
  • Open a window: You have to be careful not to breathe cleaning chemicals. Make sure there is adequate ventilation, either by opening a window or turning on your exhaust fan.

Be especially careful with bleach. Never use bleach directly. Always dilute it according to label directions, and wear gloves.

Never Mix Disinfectant Chemicals

One of the most dangerous situations is when people try to mix different cleaning chemicals. Here is a complete list of things never to mix:

  • Vinegar

  • Hydrogen peroxide

  • Bleach

  • Ammonia

  • Rubbing alcohol

  • Acids

These chemicals produce toxic vapors if you mix them. This can lead to breathing problems, chemical burns or even death.

Disinfect Safely

There’s no need to go crazy with disinfectant most of the time. Of course, if someone in your family is sick, it’s OK to clean more frequently than normal.

Clean the surfaces that you touch the most, such as faucets, door handles, light switches and appliances. Wipe down tables, desks and dressers. Keep your kitchen and bathroom especially clean, and wash your hands when you come home with antibacterial soap and water.