How Often Should You Shower?
Is It Good To Shower Everyday?
Though bathing is found to be beneficial in pain reduction in certain cases and for a good night's sleep, daily shower can, in fact, throw the natural pH balance and the protective acidic barrier that the skin creates for your body into a tizzy. What you probably need every day is cleaning the body parts where you sweat immensely and moisturizing the skin thoroughly.
Bathing is a daily ritual for most and they just don’t feel “clean” without it, while some prefer to do it every alternate day. For some, it is a way to unwind, relax and calm down after a long day. Still, there are others who decide to indulge in it depending on how hot or cold it is outside. But is there a certain number of times one needs to shower every week? Is it good to shower every day? Is it good for the skin and hair? Does it boost hygiene levels and keep diseases at bay? You’ve probably mulled over these questions every now and then. You’ve probably also bathed when you didn’t feel the need to because it’s the norm or because you didn’t want to smell bad.
Our skin is the largest organ in the body, contributing to 15 percent of our total body weight. It is the first line of defense against environmental aggressors as well as external injury and infection.1
So obviously you want this organ in ship-shape. Most of us do this by nourishing it with a daily bath and some of us hydrate it afterward with body lotions and creams. But not everyone follows the daily bathing dictum. What if we tell you that the skin doesn’t need so much showering?
Who Knew That Bathing Daily Is Harmful To Skin!
Our skin secretes sebum from oil glands through hair follicles that creates an acidic coating, providing a barrier against penetration from chemicals and microorganisms. This “acid mantle” leaves the skin with a pH between 4 and 6.8. It also curtails the loss of water and plasma proteins.2 When you take a bath daily (especially with hot water), you actually throw this pH balance and protective barrier into a tizzy.
So, should we shower every day? The only reasons for having a daily bath are if you’re involved in activities that expose you to a lot of crowd, heat, dirt, and sweat. For instance, in hot and overpopulated countries, daily bathing keeps the body cool and may ward off germs.
How often to shower also depends on your lifestyle. If you’re hitting the gym every day, you’ll need to shower after a session. If you’re bathing for hygiene purposes, try to add an antiseptic solution to your bath water instead. Soap won’t do much to the bacteria. Studies reveal that bathing with soap actually increases the colonies of bacteria on the skin!3
According to a research, the trend of more frequent washing, with detergents, soaps, and antimicrobial ingredients needs careful reassessment in light of the resulting skin damage. Frequent washing leads to an increased risk for harboring and spreading infectious agents. More washing and scrubbing are unlikely to be healthier and may, in fact, be worse.4
Keep your time in the shower limited to five to ten minutes. You really don’t need more than that.
Just Wash The Right Places
Is it good to take a shower every day? Perhaps not, as long as you pay attention to the most important zones. You don’t need to lather up your entire body. Many experts seem to believe that focusing on the areas that need cleansing like the areas with a high density of sweat glands, such as the groin, buttocks, underneath the breasts, and the armpits is enough.
Use Soap Sparingly
Still wondering if it is healthy to shower every day? Back in the day when there were no soaps or fancy shower gels, people used to clean their skin with water and a washcloth. They also used some homemade scrubs and exfoliants to buff their skin. In today’s day and age too, scrubs can work wonderfully as an alternative to soap in cleansing the skin on the body.
Soap has its disadvantages, including a high pH, poor rinsing properties, and scum residue when rinsed with hard water. Frequent cleansing with any soap or detergent can reduce the lipid content of the stratum corneum or the outermost layer of the skin. As a result, the barrier function of the skin is compromised, which can lead to dry, dehydrated and chapped skin and also increase the risk of skin conditions like eczema. To avoid this, humectants or moisturizers such as glycerin, methyl glucose esters, lactates, lanolin derivatives, and mineral oils are usually added to skin cleansers to minimize the loss of lipids.
Liquid soaps are a far more hygienic choice than bar soaps. When samples obtained from the bar and liquid soaps from 26 public bathrooms were investigated, the latter emerged a winner. Liquid soaps were found to be negative for bacteria, while 100 percent of the samples of bar soaps yielded positive cultures.5 Yuck!
Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize
Yes, soap needs to be used sparingly. We need to, however, moisturize the skin. With age, the skin becomes thinner and fragile. Dermal cells are replaced less often, elastin fibers diminish gradually, and collagen fibers become stiffer. Our sweat and oil glands also decrease in number and activity.6
The skin’s job of staying soft, smooth, supple, and hydrated becomes tougher. ‘Baby’ skin gives way to ‘senior’ skin and that’s why it is important to moisturize. Make it a point to apply a body lotion or cream daily, whether you bathe or not. Oil or dry oil is also a good idea. A study on patients with atopic dermatitis showed that bathing without moisturizer may compromise skin hydration. It also revealed that using moisturizer alone on skin without bathing yielded much better results.7
So if you have dry skin, skip the bathing part and move directly to slathering on a body cream. You can also add a few drops of glycerin or essential oil to your bath water to form a protective shield on your skin.
Bathing Has Its Benefits, Too
Of course, bathing does have its perks, too. It keeps body odor at bay. A warm bath helps with sore muscles. Research has shown that bathing with cold water briefly but regularly, reduces pain and could also help with some non-lymphoid cancers.8
Studies even link bathing before bedtime to better sleep quality in the young and particularly the elderly.9
Bathing and cleanliness are relative, with each one of us with a unique body chemistry and skin flora. Figure out what works best for your lifestyle and skin type and choose the frequency of your showers accordingly.
References [ + ]
|1, 2, 6.||↑||Sheppard, Cynthia M., and Phyllis S. Brenner. “The effects of bathing and skin care practices on skin quality and satisfaction with an innovative product.” Journal of gerontological nursing 26, no. 10 (2000): 36-45.|
|3.||↑||Davies, Jean, J. R. Babb, G. A. J. Ayliffe, and S. H. Ellis. “The effect on the skin flora of bathing with antiseptic solutions.” Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 3, no. 5 (1977): 473-481.|
|4.||↑||Larson, Elaine. “Hygiene of the skin: when is clean too clean?.” Emerging infectious diseases 7, no. 2 (2001): 225.|
|5.||↑||Nix, Denise Henry. “Factors to consider when selecting skin cleansing products.” Journal of Wound Ostomy & Continence Nursing 27, no. 5 (2000): 260-268.|
|7.||↑||Chiang, Charles, and Lawrence F. Eichenfield. “Quantitative assessment of combination bathing and moisturizing regimens on skin hydration in atopic dermatitis.” Pediatric dermatology 26, no. 3 (2009): 273-278.|
|8.||↑||Shevchuk, Nikolai A., and Sasa Radoja. “Possible stimulation of anti-tumor immunity using repeated cold stress: a hypothesis.” Infectious agents and cancer 2, no. 1 (2007): 1.|
|9.||↑||Kanda, Kiyoko, Yutaka Tochihara, and Tadakatsu Ohnaka. “Bathing before sleep in the young and in the elderly.” European journal of applied physiology and occupational physiology 80, no. 2 (1999): 71-75.|
Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.