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A Handbook of Health by Woods Hutchinson

A healthy skin is the best undergarment ever invented


As

a matter of fact, furs are worn mostly for display and are most unwholesome and undesirable garments. The only real excuse for their use, save for ornament in small pieces or narrow strips, is on long, cold rides in the winter, and among lumbermen, frontiersmen, and explorers. They hold in every particle of perspiration and poisonous gas thrown off by the skin, and if worn constantly, make it pale, weak, and flabby; and the moment we take them off, we take cold.

For outer garments and general wear, nothing yet has been discovered equal to wool, particularly at the cooler times of the year. But for under wear, in the hotter seasons and climates, wool has certain disadvantages. It is likely to be rough and tickling to most skins, which makes it uncomfortable, especially in warm weather. It is also difficult and troublesome to wash woolens without shrinking them; and, as soon as they do shrink, not only do they become uncomfortably tight, but the natural pores in them which make them so valuable close up, and they become almost air-tight. Finally, when loaded with perspiration, woolens easily become offensive, so that they must be frequently changed and washed; and as they are also high in price, it is easily seen that there are practical drawbacks to their use.

Cotton is much softer and pleasanter to the skin than wool, is cooler in hot weather, is much cheaper, and is very easily washed without losing either

its shape or its porousness. It can be so woven as to be almost as porous as wool, and to retain that porousness even when saturated with perspiration. It does not soak up and retain the oils and odors of perspiration in the way that wool does; and on the whole, for under wear, and for general wear at the warm seasons of the year, it is not only more comfortable, but far more healthful, than wool. Persons of fair health and reasonably vigorous outdoor habits, whose skins are well bathed and ventilated, can wear properly woven cotton or linen undergarments the whole year round with perfect safety.

[Illustration: A COMFORTABLE DRESS FOR OUTDOOR STUDY IN COLD WEATHER

The thick bags pulled up to the shoulders keep the body surrounded by a layer of warm air.]

Linen and silk both make admirable and healthful under wear, if woven with a properly porous mesh. Linen has the advantage of remaining more porous than cotton, when moist with perspiration. But for healthy people they have no advantages over cotton that are not offset by their higher prices.

BATHS AND BATHING

Bathing as a Means of Cleanliness. It has been said that one of the reasons why man lost his hairy coat was that he might be able to wash himself better and keep cleaner. However this may be, he has to wash a great deal oftener than other animals, most of whom get along very well with currying, licking, and other forms of dry washes, and an occasional swim in a river or lake.

You can readily see how necessary for us washing is, when you remember the quarts of watery perspiration, which are poured out upon our skins every day, and the oily and other waste matters, some of them poisons, which the perspiration leaves upon our skins. Especially is some means of washing necessary when the free evaporation of perspiration and the free breathing of the skin has been interfered with by clothing which is water-tight or too thick.

Bathing as a Tonic. But bathing is of much greater value than simply as a means of cleansing. Splashing the body with water is the most valuable means that we have of toning up and hardening the skin, and protecting us against the effects of cold. The huge and wonderfully elaborate network of blood vessels that lies in and just under our skins all over our bodies is, from the point of view of circulation, second only in importance to our hearts, and from the point of view of taking cold, and of resisting the attack of disease, one of the most important structures in our entire body. If, by means of daily baths, you keep this mesh of blood vessels in your skin toned up, vigorous, and elastic, and full of red blood, it will do more to keep you in perfect health and vigor than almost any other one thing, except an abundance of food, and plenty of fresh air and exercise. A healthy skin is the best undergarment ever invented.


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