Washing every day has become common sense, but if you look at history, this is a relatively recent phenomenon dating not more than a hundred years. Hygiene standards have changed since, and with it, cultural norms as well as what triggers a “yuck” feeling on a personal level. In a recent poll, over 60% of people claimed that they shower or bathe at least once a day. A significant number of people shower several times a day.
From a medical standpoint, are daily showers necessary?
No. Unlike the hands, the body is typically blocked by clothing, and there is little contact with the environment. Hands should be washed frequently because they are uncovered, and constantly touch things—handrails, keyboard, or other random objects. Most people should be hand-washing more than they do. On the other hand, most people wash the body too often, when there is little need. Showering will remove sweat, dirt, dust, and unwanted pathogens from the skin, but when you aren’t touching many things or physically active, there is less need to wash. In defense of showers though, there is a psychological component to consider: Most people feel refreshed and more energetic after a shower.
It might not be necessary, but is there any drawback to over-washing?
If you’re wondering this, the chances are high that you have a skin type that isn’t too negatively affected by over-washing. Many people, however, can feel the effects of over-washing very quickly. Dryness, irritation, and cracking of the skin are the most common results of over-washing. Hot water, soap, and scrubbing remove the skin oil from the surface of the skin, which helps to keep the skin’s moisture intact.
If you find that dry or itchy skin is a problem, over-washing may be a significant contributor. In the winter, dry skin can be a problem even for people who usually don’t have a dry skin type.
- Avoid hot water. Many people love hot baths or hot showers, but hot water can be extremely damaging for your skin, sapping the oil from your skin and causing the skin to lose moisture.
- People with oily skin or acne are often tempted to shower to remove the oil, but this can backfire. The skin is intelligent and adapts by producing more oil if it recognizes excessive.
- Avoid vigorous rubbing with a towel as it damages the surface skin. Pat the skin down gently, leaving some moisture on the skin.
- Apply a moisturizer after patting the skin down to seal in the remaining moisture.
- How much cleaning is required depends on how much exercise, sweat, and dirt the skin comes into contact with. For active individuals, they may need a shower every day.
- If your skin is dry, or itchy, it may be a good idea to skip a shower or two.
Dermatologist Dr. Charles Lynde talks about excessive cleansing as one of the possible causes of dry skin: