Should you bathe every day?
The internet has been abuzz with two sides of the argument for; “should we bathe every day?”. The pro-bathers say that cleanliness is very important (of course) and that we have got to get the germs off our bodies, especially in a pandemic.
The side who don’t believe in bathing daily believes so for various reasons, including water conservation and allowing the skin time to oil up (without drying it out).
Regardless, views are split down the middle.
But, what do the health experts say?
The social dilemma
Each side of the argument has merit, says Harvard.
On the one has, poor hygiene can negatively affect personal or work relationships. Harvard continues that many things humans do and how we behave regarding cleaning habits are influenced by marketing. The directions on shampoo bottles say “lather, rinse, repeat”. But we probably shouldn’t wash our hair twice with each shower, but it does sell more shampoo if everyone follows these directions. We do things to appear clean, intelligent, affluent etc.
A daily bath could actually be bad for you. Our skin is the largest organ in the body. It protects us from any dangerous external factors; germs, bacteria and so forth. In order for our skin to remain supple, it needs to be hydrated and lubricated.
Overwashing affects the skin for various reasons. Besides removing essential oils (containing “good” bacteria and many other micro-organisms) and nutrients that naturally build up on the skin’s surface, the temperature of the water is also damaging.
Washing and scrubbing remove these. It can also be removed by frequent swimming, particularly in heavily chlorinated pools. Harsh soaps and detergents’ primary purpose is to clean, not enrich. Many popular shampoos and soaps and even the detergents we use (and submerge our hands into) strip moisture from your skin remove oil.
However, everyone’s skin is different. Some people have dry skin in winter, but when summertime comes, the glands produce way more sweat and oil.
What happens to the skin if you over-wash?
- It dries out and starts to itch. Scratching can lead to infections and rashes.
- Antibacterial soaps don’t discriminate. They kill bad bacteria but also eliminate the good bacteria we need to keep us healthy.
- The immune system needs a certain amount of stimulation by typical micro-organisms, dirt, and other environmental exposures to create protective antibodies and “immune memory.”
What else gets affected by a daily shower?
Paediatricians often warn parents against excessive cleanliness with babies and kids. As mentioned above, the immune system needs to encounter a certain amount of germs in order to build immunity.
Also, kids don’t produce as much sweat as adults, so the skin is pretty clean for a day or two before they feel grimy.
A cowboy splash and freshening of the nappy area is more than enough between baths. Also, make sure to change their clothes every day.
What happens if I don’t shower enough?
On the flip side of the coin, if you don’t bathe or shower enough, things could get pretty gross. We are assuming that the person in question isn’t rinsing themselves or doing anything to sanitise any part of the body. Surprisingly, the skin may be negatively affected too.
Sweat glands produce sweat when the body is active, overheated, stressed, hormonal. Sweat is odourless until it combines with bacteria that are normally present on the skin, explains Healthline. The longer you wait to shower once this happens, the more likely you are to smell really bad. The longer you wait to wash it all off, the worse it will smell.
The buildup of bacteria on the sin opens you up to all sorts of infections. The bacteria is on your hands, so it can get into your mouth, eyes etc.
A surplus of bad bacteria on your skin also puts you at risk for skin infections. This may lead to dermatitis neglecta, where patches of plaque develop on the skin due to inadequate cleansing.
When we don’t bathe enough, the skin is covered with a buildup of dirt, dead skin cells and, of course, sweat. People who suffer from skin conditions like acne and eczema could experience exacerbated symptoms.
When we don’t bathe, these dead skin cells can build up in patches of skin that are often dark, scaly, and rough, says Medical News Today.
Secondary infections will most likely arise if you don’t treat the patches.
Patches of unhealthy, scaly skin are a collection of different components, including:
- sebum (oil secreted by the skin called)
- air pollution
- bacteria and other germs
- dead skin cells
Dermatitis neglecta presenting with no complications resolves with regular washing of the affected area.
Simply use a gentle soap and washcloth to clean the area and moisturise after. Your doctor might prescribe a medicated lotion to apply after cleansing.
Most sufferers notice immediate results. Dead skin cells and waste particles are easily scraped off the body.
In more severe cases, some plaques that appear from the condition may be treated with alcohol wipes or other antibacterial wipes.
Essentially, you know yourself and your body. If you feel that your skin gets too oily or that your body odour is pungent after every day, take a shower. If you think your skin dries out too much when you bathe every day, do so when necessary instead.
Find the hygiene regiment that works for your body.
Before embarking on any skincare routines, consult your doctor to find the best solution.