Maintaining a good personal hygiene is important to keep germs away and to prevent illnesses or infections. Washing hands, brushing and flossing teeth, etc., are some of the regular habits that are known to help promote good health and keep sickness away.
Many of us also believe in taking a shower every day for various reasons such as ensuring hygiene, feeling fresh after waking up in the morning, for a good and relaxing sleep at night, and so on. But the question is, if taking shower every day is mandatory or even good?
According to the findings of the research conducted by an infectious disease expert and associate dean for research at the Columbia University School of Nursing, Dr. Elaine Larson - 'The risk of infectious diseases doesn't get reduced by daily usage of soaps or cleaning products and scrubbing.'
According to Dr. Larson, frequently washing hands is a much better way to reduce illness. Additionally, the clothing worn by a person should be regularly changed and washed to get rid of any dead skin cells accumulated on it.
'Frequently bathing with soaps and shampoos can adversely affect the skin and hair by stripping them of the necessary natural oils as well as the immunity-supporting good bacteria. Therefore, barring few areas on the body which may cause strong odours and need to be washed and scrubbed on a daily basis, it is not important to lather the entire body every day.' - says Dr. C Brandon Mitchell, assistant professor of dermatology at The George Washington University.
Dr. Mitchell also adds that people with dry skin, scalp or hair should preferably shower or lather in every few weeks, and not daily. However, if a person has scalp issues such as dandruff, it is mandatory for them to frequently wash their hair.
The human body is known to be a home to the various microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, archaea and other microbes that protect us against germs. Frequent showering with soaps or shampoos tends to strip the skin and body of the person off its army of microbes. It is important to mention here that the microbiome is responsible for maintaining the immunity, digestion and heart-function of the body.
According to a research, a tribe in the Yanomami village of South America has strong microbiome systems due to the lack of access to westernization. These people undoubtedly don't bathe with westernized cleaning products, thereby maintaining a rich skin and hair microbiome that prevents the growth of disease-causing germs.
Let's delve more into why most people prefer to shower every day. For instance, to avoid stinking due to sweating (especially in summers), to wash away oil or grease from the hair, to get rid of dirt accumulated while travelling during the day, to wash after a bowel movement, for cleaning the feet after taking off sweaty shoes, etc. But, is it possible that instead of showering, washing only your hands, face, feet, changing your clothes or even rinsing the hair might be sufficient? Well, it depends on the following factors:
Climate: Depending on the climate of the area where you live in, you could decide the frequency of taking a shower. For example, winter or dry climate demands that you avoid over usage of hot water or soaps, since they can dry out or irritate the skin. But, in a humid or hot climate, it is advisable to take shower every day to keep dirt, oil, acne, body odour, etc., that may cause further skin-related problems.
Body-type: If you are a person who sweats a lot and easily, then a daily shower is a must for you at any cost. Especially, if you workout and sweat, it may be even necessary to shower twice a day.
Skin-type: For normal to oily skin, taking regular bath is recommended to reduce the risk of clogging of pores, accumulation of dirt and eventual infection. People with sensitive skin, especially with any sort of skin-related ailments, could avoid showering on a daily basis to avoid aggravating the problem.
Usually, dermatologists are of the opinion that long, frequent and hot showers don't benefit your skin. Ideally, up to three minutes of time is adequate, and showers as long as 20-30 minutes should be totally avoided.
Most importantly, the usage of soap should be only on the areas that need to be lathered and scrubbed, e.g., armpits and the groin. It varies from person to person. Daily soaping on other body parts could be avoided. The water used should not be hot, but warm or even cold. Extreme hot water leads to drying up of the skin, resulting in flakes.
To sum up, it totally depends on one's individual need or preference to decide the frequency of showering. And the effects and reasons of showering or not showering on a daily basis would entirely differ for each individual.