For most of us, showering is an integral part of our daily routine, a naturally occurring phenomenon that we don’t question. But as it turns out, showering every day might not be as necessary as we think; on the contrary, scientists reveal that showering too often can actually be bad for you.
In modern society, hygiene is more than a personal choice, it’s the social norm; everything and everyone, from our parents to media teach us early on to associate being clean with being attractive, well-liked and ultimately successful – not to mention the fact that there is a cleaning product for nearly each and every body part, many of which are marked encouragingly “for everyday use”.
However, Dr. Joshua Zeichner, assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, believes that our showering habits and our perception over cleanliness are mostly due to society peer pressure. Dr. Ranella Hirsch, dermatologist, agrees with him and suggests that most of us clean ourselves according to what we think of as norms, rather than actual necessities.
The two scientists point out that while a quick shower after coming home from the gym is a good idea, long, hot and frequent showers can dehydrate your skin and cause irritation and redness. The strong surfactants in soaps and shampoos also strip your skin of its protective oil barrier and the “good” bacteria living on it, making your skin more sensitive and vulnerable to infections.
According to the doctors, babies and children would also benefit from the same treatment. It’s a myth that babies need to be bathed every day, and Zeichner mentions that early exposure to “germs” and the like would actually strengthen the child’s immune system.
What should you do? Focus your cleaning energy on your “key” areas (i.e. hands, feet, armpits, intimates); these areas are where you sweat the most, giving off unpleasant odours. Take short showers in lukewarm to warm water and try to cut back on the amounts of shampoo, soap and shower gel you use – your skin will thank you.