I showered every day for decades, but I stopped that routine when I started working from home about 11 years ago. Then I’d shower if I had appointments out of the “office,” perhaps three or four times a week. Now that so much business is done by email, I may shower only twice during the week. I haven’t noticed anyone keeping their distance from me!
About 65 percent of Americans shower daily, reported Dr. Robert H. Shmerling, faculty editor at Harvard Health Publishing, but do we do it out of habit, because we think it’s healthier, or because we want to smell fresh as a daisy? When I showered every day, it was because I HAD to wash my hair or it would look yucky. It was easier to do that in the shower than in the sink.
Would it surprise you to know there are no compelling health reasons to shower every day? In fact, washing and scrubbing normal skin, especially with hot water, removes its beneficial layer of oil and balance of “good” bacteria and other microorganisms. This layer actually acts as a protective barrier against bacteria and allergens that can lead to skin infections and allergic reactions. Without it, your skin may become cracked and dry, which could give the bacteria easy access.
My skin is no longer dry now that I take fewer showers, especially on my feet and elbows (also thanks to Crepe Erase, which I use religiously when I do shower!)
“Our immune systems need a certain amount of stimulation by normal microorganisms, dirt, and other environmental exposures to create protective antibodies and immune memory,” Dr. Shmerling said. That’s why some pediatricians and dermatologists advise against daily baths for kids, except of course when they’ve been rolling on the ground and at the beach on hot summer days. Frequent baths or showers throughout a lifetime may hinder the ability of the immune system to do its job. What’s more, if you use antibacterial soaps know they can actually destroy normal bacteria. This could open the door for less friendly organisms to hang around, which are more resistant to antibiotics.
Unless you become dirty and sweaty every day, or have other compelling reasons to shower frequently, showering a few times a week should be just fine. If you can’t bear staying away, however, consider taking five-minute showers and concentrate on washing your armpits and groin.