You have heard all about how it is important to wash your hands frequently to protect yourself from the Covid-19 virus. Does the same apply to the rest of your body? In fact, over showering may do more harm than good. Here is what you should know about showering and how you can do it properly, without harming your skin and health.
People in Different Countries Shower Differently
Almost everyone in Singapore and others staying in the hot and humid countries of Southeast Asia shower daily. Some, even do it twice a day. Two-thirds of Americans shower daily, while in China, about half of the people report showering only twice a week. Showering daily has less to do with health and hygiene, but more about habit and societal norms. This explains why the frequency of bathing differs from country to country. People choose to shower daily over concerns about body odour, a routine to help them to wake up in the morning, and to keep themselves clean.
What Are The Health Impacts of Showering Every day?
Our cleansing habits are heavily influenced by marketing, if we shower more often, companies sell more body wash and shampoo. However, showering every day can be bad for your health.
Showering Daily Can Be Bad for The Skin
Your normal, healthy skin has a natural balance of oil, good bacteria, and other microbiomes to keep out other bacteria and viruses. Over-washing and scrubbing, especially with hot water, your skin may become dry, irritate, and itchy. This is especially problematic for people with eczema and psoriasis.
Showering every day Can Lower Your Immunity
Your immune system needs a colony of good bacteria and fungi to keep out infectious microbes such as bad bacteria, viruses, and harmful fungi. Furthermore, your immune system needs stimulation by dirt, different environmental exposures, and microorganisms to create an “immune memory” and antibodies. Showering too frequently may reduce the immune system’s ability to function properly. This is one reason why some pediatricians do not recommend daily baths for children.
Daily Showers Can Be Made Worse with Antibacterial Soap
Overuse of antimicrobial soaps and cleansers can contribute to antibiotic resistance. Antibacterial soaps kill off both bad and normal bacteria. This can upset the balance of our skin’s microbiome and encourage the growth of bacteria that are more resistant to antibiotics.
Shower Less But Cleanse Daily
Adequate hygiene can be maintained without a full body shower every day. Showering every two days is good enough, even in Singapore’s hot, humid weather. On the days you do not shower, it is good enough to use a clean washcloth to wipe your underarms and groin. These are places where we perspire more and where bad bacteria and fungus can populate, leading to body odour and harmful infections. However, it is important to wash your face every night to remove dirt, makeup, and skincare. As your feet tends to pick up more bacteria, it is also important to wash your feet and in between your toes to prevent smelly feet.
Some professions require you to shower daily. If you work in healthcare, are a teenager, works in a dirty environment, or whose daily activities involve physical exertion and a lot of perspiration, you must shower every day.
Healthy Showering Tips
If it is difficult for you to break the habit of showering daily, here are some tips you can take to keep your skin healthy and maintain a strong immune system.
Use Non-drying, Non-antibacterial Shower Gel
Keep your skin barrier healthy and microbiome as well-balanced as possible by using shower gel and soap that is not too harsh. It’s best to use shower gels that are well formulated and more moisturising. Choose a certified organic or natural shower gel, they do not contain harmful perfumes, additives, and harmful chemicals that can cause skin and health problems over your lifetime. You can complement your shower gel with a natural shampoo as well.
Use Soap on 3 Body Parts Only
Lather only the armpits, groin, and feet, especially between the toes.
Be Gentle and Don’t Over Scrub
Keep Shower Short and Use Warm Water
Five to ten minutes of showering is good enough. Water should not be too hot as it can strip your skin of its protective oils.
Moisturising your skin helps to prevent your skin from drying out after frequent showers, and maintain a healthy skin barrier.