Hygiene in the field. So, what? So, it may be the difference between life and death. Everyone will recognize and concede the point that hygiene helps protect you from germs and diseases, as well as preventing the body from falling apart. This is common sense. But there are other reasons to keep clean that might not be clear.
When you sweat, your body uses apocrine and eccrine glands. The eccrine secrete primarily water and salt. The apocrine glands, on the other hand, are mostly found in the hairy areas of the body…and these throw out (in addition to water and salt), oily secretions that have pheromones in them. The secretions from the apocrine glands tend to be eaten and metabolized by bacterial flora on the skin…and produce a hideous odor.
I’m here to tell you…you can smell a “stinky man” a long way off…several hundred feet when the wind is right. Be advised: in an SHTF/collapse scenario, whether it’s foreign troops or neighborhood marauders…if you can smell them, they can smell you. It is very important to clean the heaviest apocrine gland-laden areas of your body…your groin, armpits, buttocks. You should wash them (a sponge bath at the minimum) at least once a day, especially after much work or physical exertion.
Deodorant is fine…but not an antiperspirant. The antiperspirants have Aluminum and Magnesium in them to keep you from perspiring. This is not good. You need to perspire, as the sweat removes toxins from your body, as well as cooling you off (thermoregulation). For this reason, a mild deodorant will work well, one with some alcohol in it to help kill the germs that feed upon your sweat. For soaps, use a clean, non-fragranced soap in the field. I always used Ivory when I was in the service. It is effective and doesn’t stick out with a fragrance.
That last part can be detrimental, especially for you guys and gals that like to use cologne or perfume. That stuff really carries a long way to the human nose, let alone an animal’s such as a dog’s (tracking you) or a bear (that may hunt you). In addition, when you touch something…a leaf or a tree branch…you just left a scent mark. A good human tracker will pick it up quickly.
The feet…it can never be overemphasized just how much they can stink, and also how detrimental it can be for you to walk long distances with rotten, filthy feet. You should change socks at least once per day. Wash them out too…soap and water will do. Wring them out and hang them from the back of your rucksack while you’re walking. They’ll dry out. You should powder your feet (the “dogs” as we called them in the Army), and take good care that they remain clean and dry. An extra pair of insoles you should always have so that at the end of a day, you can switch out with the ones in your boots and let the pair that was inside “breathe” and dry out.
Maintain the nails, maintain the teeth…all of these preventative actions will keep you from getting ingrown toenails and having your teeth fall out…all of which contribute to an increase in the misery factor, as well as leaving you vulnerable to sickness and injury. Smoking? No way. Not in the bush. Give it up for your health, and also for your safety. We could smell cigarettes hundreds of feet from us when we were out and about. Plus, it is better to keep you from giving off an odor in your clothing and on your skin.
Good hygiene is part of your camouflage: to keep others from knowing where you are. You’ll be watching out for your health and preventing bad guys from finding out where you are. Granted, you don’t have time for a bath with Mr. Bubble, but at least you can keep from smelling bad as Oscar the Grouch or Pigpen off of the Peanuts. It’ll more than pay for itself when you follow that routine. If it keeps you hidden just one time when the SHTF when they’re after you, it will have been worth it. Stay clean, be fit, drink coffee, and keep in that good fight! JJ out!