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shower frequency

Doctors say a lot of us are showering more than we need to.

A few times in recent years, celebrities and social media influencers alike have made waves by sharing that they don't make their kids bathe every day. For some parents, that was totally par for the course, but for others, letting a child go more than a day without bathing was seen as a travesty.

Doctors have made it clear that kids don't need to bathe daily, with some going so far as to recommend against it when they are young to protect kids' delicate skin.

But what about grownups? Most of us don't take baths regularly as adults, but what's the ideal frequency for showering?


According to a YouGov poll of over 5,700 Americans, just over half of respondents said they shower daily and 11% said they shower twice or more per day. That means two out of three of us are showering at least once a day.

But according to doctors and dermatologists, that's probably overkill for most people. Unless you're doing heavy labor, exercising vigorously, working outdoors or around toxins or otherwise getting excessively dirty or sweaty, a few showers per week is enough for healthy hygiene.

In fact, Robert H. Shmerling, MD of Harvard Health says too frequent showering could actually have some negative effects on your health.

"Normal, healthy skin maintains a layer of oil and a balance of 'good' bacteria and other microorganisms," Dr. Shmerling writes. "Washing and scrubbing removes these, especially if the water is hot." He shares that removing that protective layer can make our skin dry, irritated or itchy, which can lead to damage that allows allergens and bacteria to cross the skin barrier. Additionally, our immune systems require exposure to microorganisms, dirt, and other environmental stimuli in order to create "immune memory," and if we wash them away too frequently, we might be inhibiting the effectiveness of our immune system.

Dermatologists who spoke to Vogue had similar advice about shower frequency. Board-certified dermatologist Deanne Robinson, MD, FAAD told the magazine that you can skip showering for the day if you haven't engaged in rigorous activity. Mamina Turegano, a triple board-certified dermatologist, internist and dermatopathologist. agreed. "I think that showering three to four times a week is plenty for most people,” she said.

Of course, everyone is different and what is good for one person's skin isn't good for another's. Showering frequency and health also depend on what kinds of products you're using, what temperature of water you're using and how long your shower is. There's a big difference between a quick pits-and-privates rinse-off and a long, hot shower.

While scorching yourself and steaming up the bathroom may feel luxurious and relaxing, especially if you've got sore muscles, dermatologists say it's not good for your skin. Hot showers are especially problematic for people with skin issues like eczema.

"Any skin condition characterized by a defective skin barrier can be worsened by a hot shower," board-certified New York City dermatologist Shari Marchbein told Allure. "[It] strips the skin of sebum, the healthy fats and oils necessary for skin health, and dehydrates the skin."

In fact most dermatologists recommend keeping showers lukewarm. That sounds like torture, frankly, but who's going to argue with the experts?

A lot of people, actually. Modern humans are pretty particular about our shower preferences, and judging from the comments on cleanliness discussions, some folks are dead set on the idea that a daily shower is simply not negotiable. Even with the experts weighing in with their knowledge and science, a lot of people will continue to do what they do, advice be damned.

But at least the folks who've been judged harshly by the daily shower police have some official backup. As long as you're showering every couple of days, you're golden. As it turns out, there really is such a thing as being too clean.


This article originally appeared on 3.7.24