Why showering less could be better for our health and improve immune systems
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The findings come amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen more people working from home than ever before. This, coupled with numerous lockdowns has drastically changed people’s daily routines over the last year, studies have found.
According to a YouGov survey about personal hygiene, 17 percent of people are showering less than usual.
Only one in 10 people were showering more often than they were before the pandemic began, the poll found.
According to Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Senior Faculty Editor at Harvard Health Publishing, there are many pros and cons to showering daily.
Writing in an article for Harvard Health Publishing, he said: “When it comes to concerns about health, however, it’s not at all clear that a daily shower accomplishes much. In fact, a daily shower may even be bad for your health.”
Mr Shmerling gave several reasons for this conclusion, ranging from skin irritation to soap killing off useful bacteria.
He wrote: “Skin may become dry, irritated, or itchy.
“Dry, cracked skin may allow bacteria and allergens to breach the barrier skin is supposed to provide, allowing skin infections and allergic reactions to occur.
“Antibacterial soaps can actually kill off normal bacteria. This upsets the balance of microorganisms on the skin and encourages the emergence of hardier, less friendly organisms that are more resistant to antibiotics.
“Our immune systems need a certain amount of stimulation by normal microorganisms, dirt, and other environmental exposures in order to create protective antibodies and ‘immune memory’. This is one reason why some paediatricians and dermatologists recommend against daily baths for kids. Frequent baths or showers throughout a lifetime may reduce the ability of the immune system to do its job.”
A major factor in showering less being beneficial to us is that it allows us to preserve more of our skins natural oils and micro-organisms.
There are trillions of microbes living on the skin’s surface, many of which are hugely beneficial as they help boost your body’s immune system and preserve complexion.
The microbes also play a key role in reducing the possibility of skin conditions and stopping potentially harmful pathogens entering the body.
Showering with soap can often wash these away, meaning that the public’s changing hygiene habits may not be a bad thing.
The YouGov survey also concluded that one quarter of people are washing their hair less and one third are less likely to wear clean clothes each day.
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According to Harvard Medical School, there is “no ideal frequency” when it comes to showering, though experts there recommend “several times per week” or more frequent, shorter showers focusing on the armpits and groin.
Despite the lack of conclusive evidence that showering less is better for you, people have been sharing their thoughts on the idea.
One said: “What do you mean people shower less since the start of the pandemic? I shower more than ever because of it, bathing and putting on clean clothes every time I come home from being in public.”
Another wrote: “Showering is mentally and physically refreshing. The downside sounds trivial, exaggerated, and another example of the pedantic scolding that’s so obnoxiously popular nowadays.”
A third tweeted: “This is fine in a cold climate, or during winter. I work from home, and cut back on shower/shampoo in winter.
“But in summer? Absolutely not – need a daily shower.”
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