In the 1920s and ’30s, more women entered the workforce and more people left their farms to work closely together in factories, which lead to major cultural focus on cleanliness and bathing.
But it was not about the germs, it was about the promises of beauty. And this, at first good habit, has grown into a daily habit that is actually social pressure rather than actual need. It’s become popular because of the social need to smell good. But it’s only the glands in your armpit and groin that produce body odor. They’re not all over the body.
Through evidence-based study scientists have concluded: Frequent showering may actually be doing more harm than good.
Taking baths too frequently (particularly with hot water) can make a person’s body more susceptible to various health issues because it can dry out and irritate skin, wash away the good bacteria that naturally exists on your skin, and introduce small skin cracks. These openings on the skin provide bacteria and other infection-causing microbes a way to enter the body.
This often occurs in aging people because their skin becomes less hydrated and thinner, making them more likely to contract infections.
Washing the skin can remove its natural oils as well as the population of helpful bacteria, which actually support the body’s immune system.
Scientist and doctors advice to avoid using too much antibacterial cleansers during bathing and that in terms of people’s health, taking a shower once or twice a week would be enough.
“taking a shower once or twice a week would be enough”
The areas that people should focus on cleaning during baths include the armpits, groin and butt, which are the ones that produce secretions that have strong smells. As far as the other parts of the body go, they don’t require too much soaping.
Doctors say that parents should not bath babies and toddlers daily. Early exposure to dirt and bacteria may make the skin less sensitive as you age, and prevent allergies and conditions like eczema.
While your activity level and climate will affect how often you’ll want shower, you can probably skip the daily shower and take one every two to three days.
If you’re so inclined, you can clean the grossest parts of your body with a soapy washcloth or cleansing towelette to remove odor-causing bacteria on non-shower days.
You should also put on clean undergarments each day; a study showed that we shed far more dirt and oil in our clothes than we do in the shower.
- Larson EL, Lin SX, Gomez-Pichardo C, Della-Latta P. Effect of Antibacterial Home Cleaning and Handwashing Products on Infectious Disease Symptoms: A Randomized, Double-Blind Trial. Ann Intern Med. 2004;140:321-329.
- Ananthapadmanabhan KP1, Moore DJ, Subramanyan K, Misra M, Meyer F., Cleansing without compromise: the impact of cleansers on the skin barrier and the technology of mild cleansing, Dermatol Ther. 2004;17 Suppl 1:16-25.