Most Americans didn’t bathe at all until the early 20th century. Just think of the smell. Personal hygiene has come a long way since then. Today, about two-thirds of Americans shower daily.
So is bathing every 24 hours necessary?
Dermatologists say: No. A shower every other day, or 2 to 3 times a week is better for your skin.
So grab your rubber duckies, kids. It’s time to talk about how often you actually need to bathe.
Bathing frequency depends on your skin, which can change season to season. For example, your skin may be drier in the winter due to the lack of moisture in the air.
Here are a few potential problems from over-bathing:
- dry, flaky skin
- dry or brittle hair
- bad for environment
- expensive utility bills $$$
- psoriasis or eczema breakouts
Don’t damage the skin you’re in
Showering might be a major part of your daily routine. If that’s the case, experts suggest sticking to one a day max. If your skin feels itchy and sad, shorten your showers and avoid scalding hot water.
Most peeps shower with hard water. This can actually mess with the skin’s pH levels and dry you out. It sounds ironic (like rain on a wedding day) but it’s true.
The hardness of water is determined by its level of minerals in the water, especially calcium and magnesium. In more severe cases overusing hard water may crack and inflame skin and damage your hair.
Too much showering can wash away good bacteria and strip your skin of its natural oils. If you have psoriasis or eczema, this can cause a flare-up. It’s also a good idea to switch from antibacterial body wash to a calming cleanser.
Every drop counts
According to a 2016 study, the average shower lasts around 7.8 minutes. That’s about 15.8 gallons of water. Yikes.
Bathe less frequently and take shorter showers to drastically reduce your water usage. Who doesn’t want to help save the planet (and pay less on their utility bill)? Win-win.
Do you remember the great leg washing debate of 2019? That alone had the internet in an uproar. People tend to get very defensive when it comes to their personal hygiene.
Basically, not scrubbing down often enough can cause:
- skin infections
- increased body odor
- dermatitis neglecta
- dark and discolored patches
- flare-ups of conditions like eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis
If you go a while without bathing, dead skin cells, dirt, and sweat build up. This can lead to some less-than-ideal smells. When in doubt, do a pit check.
Smelling bad isn’t the only thing to look out for. Slacking on your personal hygiene can cause bacteria imbalances. This can cause dermatitis neglecta, a condition where plaque patches grow on the skin due to insufficient cleansing.
Dead skin cell accumulation may also cause hyperpigmentation — you might notice patches of skin that appear darker in some areas.
Last year, people voiced some serious opinions on the right way to shower. Some folks really think you need to scrub your legs with soap. Others like Taylor Swift think shaving cream “is like soap, right?”
Not to reopen that old shaving cream can of worms, but dermatologists say you should give your legs some one-on-one attention. This is particularly important for peeps with lymphedema. Shaving cream or soap running down your legs isn’t gonna cut it.
Best bathing tips:
- Shower once a day max. Limit them to 5 to 10 minutes.
- On off days, sponge down with a washcloth. Your face, pits, and crotch region need extra TLC.
- Don’t use piping hot water. Opt for warm water instead.
- You probably don’t need to wash your hair every time you shower. This also helps trim your water usage.
- Use a gentle soap or cleanser. Products with fragrances or deodorants can be harsh and drying.
- Blot — don’t rub — your skin with a towel to dry off. This helps the skin retain moisture.
- Apply moisturizer after every bath or shower.
If you have a skin condition, talk to your dermatologist about your unique needs.
It’s totally possible to shower too often or not enough. Figuring out what’s best for you might take some trial and error. Start by showering every other day, or at least by limiting your daily showers to 5 to 10 minutes.
If you notice issues like dry skin or irritation, you prob need to cut back. If people can’t get close to you without wincing, it’s time to go chasing waterfalls.