In many parts of the world, bathing every day is often the norm. However, from a strictly medical perspective, it is not necessary for most people to bathe frequently.
Personal hygiene provides health benefits, and most people need to shower regularly. In addition to its use for routine washing and grooming, the water offers benefits related to pain relief and treatment in the form of hydrotherapy.
Baths, steam showers, saunas, and other bathing methods can:
- Improve immune function.
- Relieve muscle aches and pains.
- Reduce swelling.
- Increase blood flow.
- Improve concentration.
- Decrease fatigue.
- Facilitate breathing.
To a lesser extent, spending time in the shower can have these same effects. The shower cleanses the skin and removes dead skin cells to help clean the pores and allow the skin cells to function. Eliminates bacteria and other irritants that could cause breakouts and other skin problems.
However, the main reason people shower as much as they do is because it helps them meet social standards of cleanliness and personal appearance. Meeting these standards helps people feel at home in their work and social settings and in their bodies.
Showering in different seasons of the year
In many parts of the world, winters are colder and drier, while summer is hotter and more humid. These changing environmental conditions affect your ideal shower frequency.
In winter, cold temperatures and indoor heating contribute to dry skin. Many dermatologists recommend that people change their bath routines during the winter to protect themselves from dry skin. The following techniques can help people reduce the likelihood of dry skin:
- Shorten your shower time to no more than 5-10 minutes.
- Close the bathroom door to trap steam and increase humidity.
- Replace hot soapy water with warm water and mild cleansers.
- Use the least amount of gels or soaps possible to cleanse the skin.
- Dry the skin gently after bathing.
- Liberally apply oil-based moisturizing cream or ointment within 3 minutes of showering to trap moisture into skin.
Shower at different ages
A person’s bathroom needs change throughout his life.
The Academy of Pediatrics says that the common practice of bathing babies daily is not really necessary. They suggest that the time to start regular whole-body washes is when babies crawl and begin to eat.
According to the Academy of Dermatologists, although daily bathing is safe for children ages 6 to 11, they only need to bathe every few days. Once young people reach puberty, the frequency with which they must bathe varies from person to person. Many people suggest that you need to shower daily at this time.
Many teens are very physically active, and showers are a good idea after strenuous activities or sporting events, such as swimming, exercising, and other physical activities.
The simple act of taking a shower can sometimes be more challenging for older adults. Older adults may not need a shower every day to maintain the level of cleanliness necessary to protect their skin, prevent infection, and meet general grooming standards. Taking a shower once or twice a week can often be enough to meet these criteria, and people can use warm wipes to stay cool.
Older adults who can no longer bathe can continue to maintain their independence by receiving help from their caregivers with their daily activities.
Showers and work
The type of work people do affects how often they need to bathe. People who work at the desk and spend most of their time indoors do not have the same bathroom needs as those who work with hazardous substances, animals, or in any job that people find unsanitary. Occupations that people may consider “dirty work” include:
- Garbage collector
- Among many others
People who work with corrosive materials, hazardous chemicals, disease agents, and radioactive materials must shower at the end of each of their shifts. Horticulturists, arborists, hobby gardeners, and anyone who spends a great deal of time outdoors around a variety of plants can reduce the risk of rashes and other skin lesions by showering as soon as they enter indoors. Doing this will help limit your exposure to plant sap, pollen, and other potential allergens, thereby reducing the risk of a reaction.
A Dutch study found that showers can reduce sick days at work, but only if they are cold showers. The researchers reported that people who finished their showers with a blast of cold water of at least 30 seconds were absent 29 percent less of the time than people who did not.
Can you take a bath too much?
Showering removes bacteria from your skin, which means that it also removes bacteria that help protect the body from infection.
The soaps and shampoos that people use when bathing can dry out their skin and hair, causing the skin to crack and separate. How quickly this happens, which affects how often a person should shower, depends on the person’s skin type, which can be oily or dry, and the climate in which they live. If people find that their skin feels tight after getting out of the shower, this is not a sign of being clean. Instead, it indicates that the skin is too dry.
In studies focused on hand washing, researchers found that nurses with skin damage on their hands from frequent washing and wearing gloves harbored more infectious agents than other nurses. The researchers concluded that when the frequency of washing causes damage to the skin, it is counterproductive.
Showering also has a significant effect on the environment. Soaps and shampoos, not to mention added ingredients like microbeads in some skincare products, can get into groundwater, lakes, streams, and oceans. The simple act of showering depletes the vital resources of fresh water.