Nothing really beats a steamy shower after a hard workout or a tough day at work. It relaxes your mind and soothes you, right?
Good hygiene is how we protect ourselves from infections and the social stigma of being smelly or “dirty”. But do you really need a daily shower to stay clean, or is it doing more harm than good? It turns out, there aren’t any definite rules when it comes to personal hygiene.
If you are taking baths every day, then let me reveal that you’re probably overdoing it. In fact, bathing or showering too often can actually harm your body in the long run.
Some skin can thrive on one shower daily, some can dry out really easily. Two showers a day may be necessary for healthcare workers or construction workers. But showering too often without any essential need, like getting germs cleared off, can actually ruin your skin.
Hence, showering as little as one or two times a week could be sufficient, depending on your lifestyle. So what’s the ideal shower frequency? What are some serious health impacts of bathing every day? How can I keep myself clean without bathing?
Societal norms might lead us to believe we are dirtier than we actually are. These reasons stated below can help you figure out why it is probably the best to avoid baths.
1. Firstly, You're Not Even Dirty
Of course, your situation may vary. If you are someone who goes out in the sun or travels in public transport on a daily basis, you’ll obviously have a visible layer of dirt that needs to be washed off every single day. Similarly, if you hit the gym and choose to shower afterward, well that’s okay. When you feel like you need to take daily showers for aesthetic reasons, at least avoid long, steamy showers.
But if you are staying indoors, not meeting anyone, or say if the weather is not humid, then skipping a shower is just normal.
Dermatologists believe that showering a few times per week is enough. We generally associate oily skin with dirty skin, but the reality is that "Healthy skin retains a layer of good, natural oil”. Hence it's best not to wash it away more than necessary.
2. Skipping Showers Keep Good Bacteria Intact
Your skin is a giant organ that physically blocks harmful stuff from getting inside your body. There is a delicate balance of microorganisms on the skin that include certain community of bacteria and even teeny-tiny arthropods. They make up what’s known as your skin microbiome.
If you wash off your skin daily, your skin is left vulnerable to the emergence of more problematic organisms. You can deplete the essential oils, lipids, and the “good bacteria” that help your skin fight off inflammation and maintain a flawless look.
Even, our immune system needs a certain amount of stimulation by these microorganisms, dirt, and other environmental exposures in order to create antibodies & immune memory to protect against diseases.
Otherwise, bathing every couple of days should be just fine, to keep your skin microbiome healthy.
3. You Might Be Drying Out Your Skin
Showering every day might dry out your skin, especially if you are scrubbing with an abrasive scrub or loofah. In the worst-case scenario, people with skin conditions like psoriasis (a long-term skin disease that causes red, itchy scaly patches, mostly on the knees, elbows, or scalp) or eczema (an itchy inflammation of the skin causing rashes) could end up aggravating their condition by showering too much. Believe it or not, our bodies have inbuilt sanitation systems that help keep us clean, even when we're not scrubbing in warm water daily.
Another fact that supports the point is, soap penetrates the outer protective layer of the skin, causing it to dry up and crack. This makes it easier for disease-causing microbes to slip into your body. So dermatologists state that a daily shower, where you scrub and use soap on daily basis, is probably overkilling.
Moreover, you might prefer a long, hot shower, but your skin doesn't.
Yes. The hot water pulls out the natural oils from your skin, which protect it and keep it hydrated and healthy. Hot water baths can dry the skin and allow allergens to breach the barrier healthy skin should provide, further leading to skin infections, acne, or in some cases, allergic reactions.
So if you already have eczema or any skin infection, a hot shower will exacerbate it, leaving you with itchy skin. Thus, hot showers are a strict NO-NO to people who suffer from skin inflammation issues. Instead, go for cold showers.
4. You're Messing With Your Scalp
The scalp is a lot delicate than our barren skin.
If it's washed too frequently, it loses the protective oils, and you might end up developing dermatitis (seborrheic or contact dermatitis) and fungal issues in the scalp. These conditions occur with too much washing because the oils are stripped from the scalp, causing the skin to dry out and build up flakes which we call — dandruff.
If you then pick at those flakes or try to scrape at them, you can probably damage your hair follicles, resulting in hair fall.
So what’s the best possible thing to do?
How often do I need a shower?
What dermatologists recommend doesn’t mean you have to scale back your shower routine. After all, it’s all up to you. Everyone’s skin is different, and each person’s skin can vary from season to season.
For example, your skin might feel that your skin is drier during winter. In this case, too many showers can bring on extreme dryness. Yet, a shower every day in the summer or on days with high humidity, may not negatively affect your skin.
There are no hard or fast rules on how much is too much, it’s important that you get to know your body & lifestyle, and then determine what your skin can tolerate.
How can I stay clean without bathing?
Use A Washcloth
Use a camp towel (light-weight absorbent made of microfibre) to wipe your skin since it is gentle on the skin and dries more quickly than a cotton one.
You can straightaway cut down on stink by taking care of your underarms. Use a stick of deodorant or body mist of your choice wherever you go, and you’ll be able to put off showers for a little longer.
Change Your Clothes & Do The Essential Cleaning
Take a wet towel and clean up your underarms. Use a mild face wash and wash your face. Then put on some clean clothes and throw away the stinky ones in the laundry. Do not forget to change underclothes.
These are some good hacks to avoid bathing and still be clean.
The Bottom Line is:
Personal hygiene is important for your health. Daily showers might be part of your schedule, but at the end of the day, you must do what’s best for your skin.
If you’re troubled with dry skin and trying for a way to stop skin inflammation or irritation, experiment with fewer showers. Also, avoid using abrasive loofahs and go for a natural one if you need to scrub. The least you can do is, limit your showers to 5 minutes and skip the hot water or steamy baths.