You Need to Shower or Bathe Daily to be Healthy?
by Sárka-Jonae Miller
See more articles by Sárka-Jonae Miller
(The Best Years in Life)
When former Glee star Naya Rivera called daily showering a “white people thing”
it made me wonder if what I was taught in health class was true, that bathing
every day was hygienic. In California, we have a severe drought, so I wondered
if maybe showering every other day is the right thing to do. So, what does an
environmentally, socially, and health conscientious person do?
How often do people shower?
Most people won't admit to showering less than once a day because of the stigma,
so it is hard to say if it is really “normal.” Australia perhaps leads the world
on most frequent bathing. According to a survey conducted in October 2006, 62
percent shower every day while 29 percent and 9 percent shower twice a day and
three times a day respectively. If you dislike body odor, Australia might be the
best place in the world to live.
Why do we shower?
Once upon a time, before indoor plumbing, families usually bathed once a week
and all in the same tub. Typically, bathing order went from oldest to youngest,
hence the expression don't throw out the baby with the bathwater. Although
reusing the same water for several people is not hygienic, keeping clean is
important to protect your skin from diseases.
But what about dirt and smell? People who are frequently outdoors, who exercise
daily, who are often on subways or in other cramped spaces, or whose jobs
involve manual labor should probably shower daily. But a lot of people are
unlikely to sweat and get dirt on places other than their hands and face, so do
they need to shower as much?
John Oxford, a professor of Virology at Queen Mary's School of Medicine and
Dentistry, suggests frequent hand washing and keeping the area around the
genitals clean, which could be accomplished using a bidet. Otherwise, he says
bathing only two to four times a week is adequate.
Some people recommend rinsing off daily, especially during summer, but only
using soap every other day because it can dry the skin. Soap washes off the oils
that are good for your skin. Dana S. Simpler, M.D. says that people wash off too
much of their healthy skin oils. Dr. Simpler is an internist at Baltimore' Mercy
Medical Center. She also says that people who shower too frequently during
winter can get a skin condition called winter itch that results in a dry, itchy
What to do
If you're not one of the people who need to get clean every day, try showering
every other day or only two days out of three. The arms and legs are the areas
that tend to dry out more, so during winter especially, try not to use soap on
your limbs daily.
On the non-shower days, give yourself a sponge bath for your face, hands,
underarms, and genital area to prevent body odor and any accumulation of
bacteria. However, some bacteria is good for your skin. Dr. Richard Gallo,
dermatology chief at the University of California, told the New York Times that
skin cells need good bacteria. These helpful bacteria assist skin cells in
figuring out how to make antibiotics that fight bad bacteria.
A good rule of thumb is if your skin is soft and people can smell your natural
scent, you're probably bathing enough. If people can smell you from across the
room, you probably should start showering more often. I just hope Rivera bathes
frequently enough not to stink for the sake of her new Devious Maids co-stars.
Kids Who Get Dirty Have Better
Enjoy the historical healing and
relaxing benefits of mineral and herb baths at home
About the Author
Sárka-Jonae Miller is a health and fitness expert. She began working in the
fitness industry in 2000 while pursuing a BS in journalism at Syracuse
University. She became certified as a personal fitness trainer and group
exercise instructor in 2003. She has also received training in massage therapy.
Sárka also writes fiction. She is the author of the chick lit novel,
Boyfriends. Get more health and wellness tips on Sárka's
Natural Healing Tips
blog or join her on
Sarka-Jonae Miller's "Between Boyfriends eBook"
When "the one" breaks her heart, Jan vows
to change. Read the book
Hollywood & Vine magazine says "presents a unique
twist on the chick-lit genre."
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