Shakespeare most famous play, Hamlet, has the famous line, “To be, or not to be, that is the question.” Hamlet cannot decide what is better, ending all the sufferings of life by death, or bearing the mental burdens silently. In California, one of the hottest states in the USA where drought is a serious problem, Hamlet’s soliloquy should begin with the line,”To shower, or not to shower, that is the question”.
For those wondering about the pros and cons of daily bathing habits and are considering showering less, worry not. In recent years doctors and dermatologists have highlighted the cons of bathing twice to three times per day or even once every day. While bathing is a healthy habit, we don’t need to do it as regularly as we think.
A Harvard Medical School study on bathing daily found that “while there is no ideal frequency, experts suggest that showering several times per week is plenty for most people (unless you are grimy, sweaty, or have other reasons to shower more often). Short showers (lasting three or four minutes) with a focus on the armpits and groin may suffice”.
Not showering enough can obviously cause a strong body odor that will put off other people and contribute to the buildup of bacteria, but too much showering (a few times per day) can actually have negative effects on our skin such as drying it out and stripping off the skin’s protective layer, which has oils that protect the skin from dryness and germs. By constantly cleaning it or scrubbing it with harsh soaps, we may strip away this layer and end up with dry or irritated skin.
The Harvard study confirms that the body’s immune system needs stimulation from germs, including those present in our skin. It says “our immune systems need a certain amount of stimulation by normal microorganisms, dirt, and other environmental exposures in order to create protective antibodies and “immune memory.” This is one reason why some pediatricians and dermatologists recommend against daily baths for kids. Frequent baths or showers throughout a lifetime may reduce the ability of the immune system to do its job”.
For those suffering from specific allergies or oily skin, showering more often, is probably beneficial. The same applies to individuals who get sweaty, or are exposed to allergens or chemicals at work, or spend a lot of hours working in the sun. On the other hand, people with certain skin conditions or who spend a lot of time indoors in the cool can keep their showers to a minimum.However, having regular self-indulgent baths or very long showers for the sake of it, is egotistical