Poor Hygiene: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Poor hygiene can be a sign of self-neglect, which is the inability or unwillingness to attend to one's personal needs. Poor hygiene often accompanies certain mental or emotional disorders, including severe depression and psychotic disorders. Dementia is another common cause of poor hygiene. Other people may develop poor hygiene habits due to social factors such as poverty or inadequacy of social support. Physical disabilities can also interfere with one's ability to care for oneself and may result in an individual being unable to attend to personal hygiene. There is no treatment for poor hygiene, although antipsychotic and antidepressant medications are used when certain mental illnesses are the cause of this behavior.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/7/2017

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