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Nasty Hygiene Habits You Didn't Know You Had, Say Experts

Here are 5 common hygiene mistakes far too many people make every day, according to science.

You probably think of yourself as a clean, hygienic person. You shower most days, brush your teeth regularly, and keep your nails at a reasonable length. But while most of us assume we are quite exacting in the way we go about our self-maintenance, there's a good chance you are overlooking a few aspects of your personal care—and in areas that can have a significant impact on your long-term health and social interactions. Here are several common hygiene habits that experts say are pretty nasty that you may not even know you're guilty of doing. So read on, and for more ways to look and feel better every day, don't miss The Secret Exercise Tricks for Getting Rid of Wrinkles, Say Experts.

You Brush Your Teeth Too Hard.

brushing teeth

Even those who are the most conscientious about their hygiene can inadvertently be doing damage to their own health. That's the case with those who really get in there with the toothbrush. "As an NYC dentist, I would say that one of the bad habits I have encountered in patients and friends (alike) is brushing one's teeth way too hard," says Joseph Salim, DMD of Sutton Place Dental Associates.

He emphasizes that intense toothbrushing can cause recession of gums, increased sensitivity, and other negative results. In some cases, it may be the result of a dominant hand—with right-handed people brushing too hard on the left side and vice versa—or it may be age.

"I see this more often in younger people partially due to stress," he says. "Many people buy medium or hard brushes, thinking they clean better instead of soft or extra soft ones—I don't even know why they sell those brushes at all since there are no cases where a medium or hard brush is needed unless you're brushing dentures, maybe." And for more ways to look your very best, make sure you know the Body Parts You Should Clean at the End of Every Day, Say Experts.

You Don't Wash Your Bedding Enough

bed sheets

You change your underwear and socks every day, but how often do you wash the things that you put your face and body on each night? Maybe once a month, if you're especially conscientious, but likely less than that. The Good Housekeeping Institute says that you should wash your sheets at least every other week, but it's likely you don't follow that advice as often as you'd like to. Why is that a problem?

"When you don't wash your sheets, large quantities of particulates accumulate, including human skin cells," Philip Tierno Jr., a professor of microbiology and pathology at the NYU School of Medicine, explained to VICE. "Those cells serve as foodstuff for dust mites, whose feces are very allergenic."

In more extreme cases, it could even result in staph infections and other skin issues that could create some serious problems. So strip that bed and get cleaning!

You're Over-Moisturizing

Woman Applying Cream On Skin

Regularly moisturizing your skin is great—unless you start overdoing it. Your skin responds to its conditions, and in dryer conditions will produce more oil, but if given more moisture than it needs, it will stop producing as much oil. This can kick off a vicious cycle of moisturizing only to soon find your skin dryer than ever, leading to even more moisturizing, and so on.

"When you use moisturizer every day, you run the risk of making your skin older, not younger," Zein Obagi, M.D., an LA-based dermatologist and founder of skin-care line ZO Skin Health, told Refinery 29. "If you apply a lot of moisture, skin will become sensitive, dry, dull, and interfere with natural hydration."

Excessive moisturizing can also lead to clogged pores, blackheads, and other issues.

You're Taking Long, Hot Showers

shower running

A nice, long shower may be relaxing, but it's not actually very good for you. In fact, dermatologists warn that going overboard and taking long, hot, and frequent showers can result in a number of negative side effects, including drying out skin and hair or stripping away important natural oils. "For patients with atopic dermatitis and/or very dry skin, I recommend keeping showers to five minutes or less," Dr. Lauren Ploch, a board-certified dermatologist with the American Academy of Dermatology, told Today. "Keep showers active. Don't stand under water for minutes at a time."

The long time under the hot water could aggravate existing cases of skin conditions such as eczema or rosacea, and "increase the exposure to infections, chemicals, and allergens," as Dr. Arielle Kauvar, a NYC-based dermatologist, told Bustle.

The intense heat could even cause a lowering of blood pressure, as it dilates peripheral blood vessels, causing a person to feel lightheaded or even dizzy. So be sure to keep your showers short. And for more self-care tips, don't miss the 5 Things Taking a Hot Bath Does to Your Body, Says Science.

You Sleep with Your Contacts In

Woman Lying On Bed

If you do this, you are probably aware it is not a great idea as you wake up with eye irritation. But there are worse side effects to be aware of. "Sleeping with your contact lenses in can lead to a corneal abrasion or infection," says Allen Conrad, BS, DC, CSCS of Montgomery County Chiropractic Center. He points to a CDC report on the topic. "The cornea part of where your contact lenses attach to the eye, and lenses should be regularly cleaned and disinfected to help avoid an eye infection from happening."

Ophthalmologist Allison Babiuch echoed these points, telling the Cleveland Clinic that "it's important to give the eyes a break and let the cornea breathe, and when your eyes and contacts dry out too far you can cause damage when you pull it off."

So do yourself a favor: Take out your contacts before you turn out the light. And for great self-care tips, don't miss these Dirty Hygiene Habits You Didn't Know You Had, Say Experts.

Alex Daniel
A journalist based in Brooklyn, New York. Read more about Alex