I don’t know about you guys, but since I first stepped into a shower, I’ve understood that this was something I needed to do every day for the rest of my life.
I’ve had discussions with friends over when you should shower (are you a morning person or an evening person?) and chats about the use of a loofah (I’m a fan), but never have I considered broaching the topic of whether or not I should be showering every day.
From what I’ve seen floating around the Internet, however, it seems I was mistaken. Showering (or bathing) daily is not actually all that necessary, apparently.
According to a piece written in Harvard’s health blog, 80 per cent of Aussies shower daily. But that is not the case globally. Now, obviously, part of this would have to do with access to water and environmental factors, but according to Harvard, many of our views on bathing are “more about habit and societal norms than health”.
The reasons behind our desire to hop into the shower are likely connected to “concerns about body odour,” needing “help waking up” and “a morning routine that includes working out” the blog article states.
That’s all well and good (if you’re not using too much water) but the simple fact is that showering too often is more likely to cause your body strife than skipping a day.
Associate Professor Stephen Shumack, President of the Australasian College of Dermatologists spoke with the Sydney Morning Herald about this topic a few years ago. In that interview, he pointed out that over-washing strips your skin “of the natural body oils we produce to protect the skin cells,” going on to share that:
“This can cause actual damage making them more permeable to bacteria or viruses, precipitating itchy skin, dryness, flakiness and worsening conditions like eczema.”
It’s even been suggested that messing up the good bacteria on your skin by showering too much can even lead to conditions like acne and asthma, the SMH wrote.
So how often should you be showering?
From what both Harvard minds and dermatologists suggest, it seems the answer sits at every other day (so, maybe four days per week?). Shumack told SMH that between one and three times per week (gasp!) should be fine if you’re not super sweaty and haven’t been rolling in mud.
It’s also recommended that you keep your showers short (about three minutes); stick to lukewarm water and use soap-free cleansers. When you’re in there, however, make sure to hit the armpits and groin as those are the spots that tend to get a little ripe over time.
Oh, and before we rehash the whole “washing your legs” argument again – the answer there is, it doesn’t have to be every day but if you’re sweaty or covered in something rank, probably give them a scrub.