Should you shower every day? 5 factors to consider

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Many people were told that daily hygiene consists of washing your face, brushing teeth and taking a shower or bath. But is that true for everyone?

WellTuned spoke with Dr. Ian Bushell, a medical director with BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, to find out how often the average person should bathe.

Factors to consider when deciding how often to shower

Dr. Bushell: Choosing how often to shower or bathe is a matter of personal preference. Obviously, if you’re dirty, you’re going to want to get clean. However, beyond that, everyone has different needs. You might want to think about your own skin, your daily routine, and even the weather. You might need to shower on a daily basis, but sometimes you might not.

Consider these factors when choosing whether or not to take a shower each day:

1. The weather

A hot shower (or bath) can feel great when it is cold outside. But you might want to reconsider. Prolonged exposure to hot water can dry your skin out. It can make your skin feel dry, itchy, and irritated. Don’t compound the effect of the cold winter weather by taking a super-long hot shower. Depending on your preference, you could take a shorter, lukewarm shower or possibly even skip the shower altogether. When it is hot outside, a short, warm or cool shower after sweating can help you get clean without drying your skin out too much.

2. Your skin

People with skin disorders like eczema or psoriasis should bathe or shower less often. When you have psoriasis or eczema, your skin is already dry and irritated, and daily showering can dry it out even more and make the symptoms worse. However, if you do choose to go ahead and shower daily, try to limit the amount of time you spend in the water. Cooler water and shorter tub time can minimize skin irritation. Apply moisturizer immediately afterward to keep your skin hydrated.

3. Your activity level

If you’re very active, you probably tend to sweat more than someone who is more sedentary. So, you may want to bathe or shower more often. If you go to the gym or are physically active at your job, you might also want to make time for a shower afterward.

4. Your age

Young children don’t need a daily bath unless they’re physically dirty or they’ve been swimming. Teenagers are a different story. Once puberty starts, a daily shower or bath is recommended, as is washing faces to remove dirt and oil. Older adults should bathe once or twice a week. Daily showers dry out their skin, leading to itching and infections. However, if they have incontinence, they should sponge bathe in between showers.

5. Other people

When you spend time around a lot of other people—in an office, school or public transportation—you have greater exposure to viruses and colds. Those germs can collect on your skin and clothes. So, if you’re planning to spend time around your loved ones, or anyone who is medically vulnerable, a pre-visit shower is appropriate.

Don’t ignore the soap you use

Dr. Bushell: The products that you use in the shower matter. Be thoughtful about the kind of soap or cleanser that you’re using. From a hygiene perspective, the physical act of having water flowing over your skin and gently scrubbing does the majority of the cleaning. Soaps can help finish the job, but you’re better off opting for a gentle soap or cleanser. A harsh or strongly-scented soap might irritate your skin, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Also, there’s no need for using antibacterial soap on a regular basis. Your skin has bacteria on it as a normal part of protecting you and keeping your skin healthy, and antibiotic soap can disrupt that natural balance.

The bottom line

Dr. Bushell: Deciding how often to shower is a big part of taking care of your skin. It’s important to be gentle with your skin, no matter how often you bathe or shower. Make sure you moisturize your skin and wear sunscreen or protective clothing when you’re outside.

“If you do decide to forego a shower for whatever reason, you can still keep yourself clean,” says Dr. Bushell. “Wash your face and hands, and then use a washcloth to gently wipe down areas that tend to get sweaty.”

More from Dr. Bushell on WellTuned

Jennifer Larson

Jennifer Larson is Nashville-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years of experience. She specializes in health care and family issues.

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