It’s not uncommon if you skip a shower here or there, especially during these last seven months. According to recent data from consumer goods group Unilever, people were spending far less than they usually do on personal care products in April as they began working from home and frankly, barely leaving the house. But in reality, as much as some people may turn their nose up at the idea, skipping a shower every once in a while doesn’t have any serious consequences for your health. In fact, according to experts, you may actually be healthier if you don’t shower every day. Esteban Kosak, MD, medical advisor for Symptoms Care, says that while showering can offer “physical, mental, and emotional benefits,” the daily shower most people take is probably more than they need. He says unless you are noticeably grimy or sweaty, you probably don’t need to shower more than a few times a week. Read on to find out more, and for the one area to avoid entirely, check out The Body Part You Should Never Clean, According to Doctors.
“In many parts of the world, taking a shower every day tends to be the norm,” Kosak notes. “However, from a strictly medical perspective, it is not necessary for most people to shower this frequently.”
Ultimately, your shower schedule really depends on your day-to-day life, especially amid coronavirus. “Depending on your occupation, it is fine to not shower daily,” says family and emergency doctor Janette Nesheiwat, MD. “If you are a doctor, paramedic, healthcare worker, construction worker, athlete, or even a plumber, then you should shower daily, as you are in closer contact with bacteria, viruses, and fungi.”
Kosak says that besides those with certain occupations, you should also shower every day if you regularly exercise, as sweat on the skin can cause bacteria to increase rapidly. And if you don’t shower often enough, Nesheiwat explains that dead skin cells can build up and cause irritation or breakouts that can lead to rashes or infection.
But, according to Sandy Skotnicki, MD, a dermatologist and author of Beyond Soap, showering doesn’t remove many germs from your skin. What it does remove is “the skin’s natural lipids which impedes the skin’s barrier function, and in turn, can create a vicious cycle that sees soap causing more damage, stripping out even more lipids from the epidermis, and worsening the chapping caused by over-frequent and overlong showers.”
“As a society, we wash way too much, and then we try to limit the damage by applying creams and emulsions that are potentially irritating and allergenic,” she says.
Skotnicki says you really only need to wash three parts of your body with soap regularly: your armpits, groin, and feet. These spots are home to some of the most sensitive skin on your body and are more prone to harboring fungus growth, ingrown hairs, bad bacteria, and potentially harmful infections.
But not all hygiene practices can be skipped quite as often as a shower. For the habits you really shouldn’t skip on the daily, read on. And for things you shouldn’t do in the shower, check out The One Body Part You Shouldn’t Wash in the Shower, Doctors Say.
Washing your hands
Washing your hands regularly is important even when there isn’t a global pandemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s estimated that only 19 percent of the world washes their hands after using the bathroom. However, washing your hands is vital to killing and stopping the spread of germs, and hand washing can prevent around 30 percent of diarrhea-related sicknesses and about 20 percent of respiratory illnesses. And for more on hand washing, check out This Is When You’re Still Forgetting to Wash Your Hands, Study Says.
Many people don’t wear sunscreen as often as they should. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, you should be wearing sunscreen every day—even in the winter. After all, regular daily use of sunscreen with at least 15 SPF can reduce your risk of melanoma by 50 percent. And for more on skincare, avoid the Skincare Mistakes That Are Aging Your Skin, According to Experts.
Brushing your teeth
Yes, you should be brushing your teeth every day—twice a day, in fact, according to the American Dental Association. If you don’t, the harmful plaque and bacteria covering your teeth can build up and lead to tooth decay. Eventually, poor oral hygiene can lead to other problems like heart disease, arthritis, and respiratory illness. And for more on your chompers, check out the 25 Things You’re Doing That Would Horrify Your Dentist.
Washing your face
While your body may not need a wash every day, your face is a different story. Kanika Tim, founder of Revita Skin Clinic, told Heathline that no matter your skin type or day-to-day activities, everyone should wash their face twice a day—once in the morning and once at night. You encounter many elements out in the world that can clog your pores and these elements need to be removed daily to avoid breakouts, irritation, or infections from bacterias or viruses. And for more useful content delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.