Real Talk: Do We Need To Shower Every Single Day?

Showering is an indispensable part of maintaining personal hygiene. Cleansing your body with water helps to rinse dirt, sweat, and dead skin cells from the surface of the skin and makes you feel fresh again. A lack of showering for a long time causes impurities and sweat to accumulate on your skin, resulting in skin irritation in addition to a foul-smelling odor that repels people. Showering is more than just a matter of individual preference — it's a civic duty. 

In many societies, people are expected to wash parts of their bodies with soap and water on a daily basis to keep themselves clean and stave off hygiene-related diseases. Frequent showers are always synonymous with good hygiene. Some might argue that body washing is no different from teeth brushing or face washing; you don't actually have to wait until it reeks to start splashing water on it. But is it actually healthy to shower every single day? Truth be known, showering every day might even cause our bodies more harm than good. Here's why. 

You don't have to shower every day

Daily showers are not necessarily a healthy habit. "Some people need to shower once or twice a day after working up a sweat, while others who aren't as active, may only need to shower several times a week," cosmetic dermatologist Michele Green tells Real Simple. Although it's important to maintain personal cleanliness, people with different skin conditions have different needs. For instance, it's not good for people with chronic skin conditions like eczema to shower every day. Shower frequency may vary throughout the year, depending on the season, your health conditions, and your lifestyle. For instance, bed-bound patients cannot shower every day, but they have other ways to keep themselves clean. 

According to Harvard Health Publishing, not only is daily showering unnecessary, but it's also harmful to your skin. On normal, healthy skin should reside a balance of good bacteria and other microbes, in addition to a layer of oil. These are removed by washing and scrubbing, especially when the water is hot, making the skin dry and more prone to irritation. When your skin is dry and cracks easily, it's vulnerable to all sorts of skin infections and allergic reactions. 

Additionally, washing with antibacterial soaps might upset the equilibrium of skin-surface germs and promote the formation of more aggressive, antibiotic-resistant organisms. To produce defending antibodies and immunological memory, our immune systems require a certain level of exposure to normal microbes in our surroundings. Being too clean might not be good for your immune system.

How often should you shower?

Since everyone has unique skin needs and lifestyle habits, there's no one-size-fits-all answer to how often you should shower per week or per month. A good rule of thumb, according to Dr. Mary Stevenson, an assistant professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Health, is to shower every two to three days. 

How you shower is as important as how often you shower. "What people tend to do is soap up their entire body, which is really not necessary," Dr. Stevenson tells Today. "You really only need soap in your armpits, your groin and your feet. Places that you get stinky." Plus, try not to spend more than three minutes in the shower.   

You should also stick to lukewarm water as opposed to a hot shower, dermatologist Lisa Chipps points out to Real Simple. Long, steamy baths can dry out the skin and predispose it to irritation. Instead of using strong exfoliating cleansers, choose gentler cleansers to preserve the pH balance and natural oils of your skin. If you have a skin condition or an allergy, consult your dermatologist for advice on body cleansers or shampoos that best suit your needs. After a shower or a bath, pat yourself dry and apply a gentle moisturizer to any areas of your body that are prone to dryness. You should start moisturizing within two to three minutes after exiting the shower to prevent transepidermal water loss and lock in hydration.