Why The Skin Must Be Kept Clean
( Originally Published 1938 )
It should be obvious by this time that a clean skin is all important. Since the skin has been provided for by nature to act as a protective covering of the body as well as an organ of elimination, it is essential for its complete and perfect functioning that the integrity of its surface remain unbroken. It can only be maintained if the surface resistance is not lowered by disease, wounds or chemicals. It is evident that the first rule to observe is cleanliness. Cleanliness is the safeguard against the ills caused by excess sweat and excess fat secretion; it is a safeguard against clogged pores and all the conditions they produce; it is a safe guard against the irritation of foreign substances, whether their action be purely chemical or allergic; and consequently it is a protection against the invasion of bacteria and other disease causing organisms.
We have learned, moreover, that the skin possesses self-disinfecting powers. This important function cannot be over emphasized, nor the state of cleanliness necessary for its performance. As one wellknown authority points out, dirty or fat covered skin may have viable bacteria on it very many hours, for the dirt or fat as a breeding place for germs is far more potent than the disinfecting power of the skin.
It must be remembered that when a skin fails to perform its functions properly and grows sick because it has not been kept clean, that the entire body and its performance is affected and this is due not only to the invasion of bacteria through the skin or the organs of respiration. When the skin fails to perform its functions of heat regulation and elimination of waste adequately, the other organs are over worked to keep the body in normal condition. This overtaxing may lower both mental and physical efficiency.
Undoubtedly you remember the epidemic of amoebic dysentery which broke out in Chicago during the Exposition, and from there was taken to the home cities of the sightseers. Whatever might have been the ultimate source of this disease, it was definitely proved that it was spread through unclean hands, in a large hotel, which washed and dried the dishes and handled the food. It is difficult to believe that havoc could be wrought by a pair of unclean hands, but such is the case. And similar cases of infection are being constantly spread. Pneumonia, influenza and colds are frequently contracted in this manner. A person suffering from a cold may dry the supper dishes. He or she might suddenly sneeze, spreading the filtrable virus that causes the cold, over the towel with which he wipes the dishes. Naturally the germs reach the dish and from there the food which enters the mouth. In a short time another cold results. So you see how necessary clean hands are it is through the medium of hands that respiratory and other diseases may be easily contracted.
But a clean skin is not only necessary for health it is equally necessary for beauty. To many persons, particularly women, beauty of skin is just as necesnary as health. A lovely skin is one that is clear and soft and smooth. It is unmarred by unsightly blemishes such as roughness, scales, swollenness, black heads, oiliness, pimples and eruptions. While the general care of the body is essential for such a skin, local care is equally important. No skin can be beautiful if it is not regularly and properly cleansed with materials that are actively detergent and yet non-irritating. This is particularly true of the hands and face which are constantly exposed to dust and grime and bacteria, as well as to contact with irritating chemicals used in one's occupation, as in the case of a woman who does housework or man who works in a dye factory.