Suds Down: Why Skipping Showers May Boost Your Health

Showering less may seem counterintuitive, especially during a pandemic, but doctors are saying that waiting days or even weeks between showers might actually be better for our health. Showering every day might not be necessary and could even be harmful.

How much washing is enough?

According to Dr. Esteban Kosak, “Unless you are noticeably grimy or sweaty, you probably don’t need to shower more than a few times a week.” The only exceptions are if your occupation exposes you to viruses and bacteria, and if you exercise regularly since sweat on the skin can cause bacteria to increase rapidly.

Dr. Sandy Skotnicki, a Canadian microbiologist and professor of dermatology at the University of Toronto, explains that showering doesn’t remove that many germs from your skin. Instead, it removes the skin’s natural lipids, which can lead to skin damage and chapping.

The three body parts you really need to wash

Dr. Skotnicki says there are really only three body parts you need to lather up on a daily basis: your armpits, groin, and feet. These areas are home to some of the most sensitive skin on the body and are prone to harbor fungal growth and harmful bacteria that can lead to infections.

Washing too much can increase cancer risk

Dr. Richard Galllo, a dermatologist at UC San Diego, headed a study that discovered a type of bacteria that we shouldn’t be washing away. The bacterium, Staphylococcus epidermidis, produced a compound called 6‑N‑hydroxyaminopurine, which may prevent the replication of tumor cells. By washing away this bacterium, we may be increasing our risk of skin cancer.

Putting “less is better” to the test

Dr. James Hamblin, author of the book Clean: The New Science of Skin, argues that by constantly showering, we’re disrupting a microbiome on our skin that’s similar to the microbiome of helpful bacteria that live in our gut. He decided to go without showering for five years, and he claims that his ecosystem reached a steady state, and he no longer smells like B.O.

So, do we need to shower?

In conclusion, showering less frequently may be beneficial to our skin’s health and overall wellbeing. Focusing on washing only the armpits, groin, and feet, and avoiding unnecessary disruption of the skin’s microbiome, can lead to healthier and more balanced skin. However, always maintain good hygiene practices, especially during a pandemic, to prevent the spread of disease.