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close this bookYou, Your Life, Your Dreams: A Book for Adolescents (FCI, 2000, 213 p.)
close this folderCHAPTER 5: BASIC BODY CARE
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentKeeping clean, smelling nice
View the documentCaring for your teeth
View the documentPimples
View the documentHair care
View the documentEating well
View the documentExercise
View the documentGood rest

Hair care

We have hair all over our body, but especially on our heads, as well as in our armpits and around the genitals. Taking care of your hair is another part of practising good hygiene and taking good care of your body.

The hair on your head is pretty easy to care for - especially if you keep it short. Whether you keep your hair short and natural, plaited or permed, you should wash it to keep it free from dust and dirt. If you are in school, try not to share hair combs because this can spread lice or the fungal infection, ringworm. If you do share combs, make sure you carefully wash the comb with hot soapy water before and after using it.

Some people have trouble with dandruff, which is when the skin on your head is very dry. Dandruff consists of small flakes of dead skin, and some people who have a lot of dandruff use special medicated shampoos to stop the dandruff.

Simple, regular bathing is good care for the other hair on your body - the hair in your armpits and the pubic hair around the genitals. As you read in Chapter 2, these hairs serve a good purpose - they keep sweat and dirt away from your skin. In some parts of Africa, however, people remove some of these hairs. For example, some people feel the genitals look nicer without hair. Others think it is better for hygiene.

Magreth, 18, Tanzania

"When I was in standard 6, I started to grow pubic hair. My mother told me that if they grow long, I must trim them and wash very well, otherwise I will smell."

Lois, 13, Tanzania

"I have seen hairs in my armpits. It is not long since I saw this hair so I have not trimmed it yet."

If your culture discourages pubic hair, merely trim it with scissors. Do not take it off completely by using hair-removing creams or by shaving. Hair-removing creams will irritate and hurt the delicate skin in the pubic area. Shaving also has risks. If you shave your pubic hair, you are likely to make some very small cuts in the skin. If you have sex, these cuts are like open doors for HIV to pass through. That is dangerous. The other problem with shaved pubic hair is that, when it grows back, the hairs are so sharp that they can pierce a condom. Thirdly, the naked pubic area also tends to get little infections around the hair follicles or the base of where the hair should be growing. Trimming the hairs a little bit is safe, but be careful and don't take all the hair off.