How often should you take showers?

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A shower running into an overflowing bathtub.

Illustration by Yahoo News Visuals; photo: Getty Images

What’s happening

People are discussing their shower habits again and debating how often they should bathe.

It started with a new today segment titled “How often should you…” that debuted July 18. The first topic was showering, which had Al Roker, Dylan Dreyer and Sheinelle Jones guessing how often per week a dermatologist might recommend that a person wash up. ShopToday editorial director Adrianna Brach shocked them all by saying that the “consensus is two to three times a week.”

The number comes from a 2022 article where multiple dermatologists weighed in. Dr. Mary Stevenson, assistant professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Health, was quoted with that estimation.

On July 19, America Ferrera revealed while playing a game with her Barbie castmates for VanityFair that her guilty pleasure is “not showering for a few days.”

Both clips had people across the internet sharing their opinions.

Why there’s debate

While individuals are set in their own personal hygiene routines, there is “no one-size-fits-all answer” to the question of how many times a week someone should shower, according to WebMD. So, as the topic appears in cultural conversations, it’s ripe for conversation.

The subject has come up in the past when celebrities have spoken publicly about their own routines. In 2021, Jake Gyllenhaal told VanityFair, “I find bathing to be less necessary, at times.” He went on to say: “There’s a whole world of not bathing that is also really helpful for skin maintenance, and we naturally clean ourselves.”

Dwayne Johnson vehemently protested that take, sharing on Twitter that he showers multiple times in a single day.

Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis also found themselves mired in controversy surrounding bathing habits when they said that their kids don’t have daily full body washes. “If you can see the dirt on them, clean them,” Kutcher said during an appearance on Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert podcasts in 2021.

There are cases to be made about the health detriments of showering too often or not enough. Experts point out that it’s important to protect the natural oils of your skin by being mindful not to strip them with too much soap and scrubbing. At the same time, it’s vital to wash off bacteria, dirt and allergens that might contribute to acne and certain skin infections.

Brach of today clarified that shower frequency does “depend on the person” and their routine — including lifestyle, activity level, skin type and age. Those who are prone to sweat and body odor should shower more than people who struggle with dry skin, eczema or rosacea. “At the end of the day, it’s all personal preference,” she said in the segment.

There are even cultural differences that come into play. “Approximately two-thirds of Americans shower daily. In Australia it’s over 80%. But in China, about half of people report bathing only twice a week,” according to Harvard Health Publishing. “The daily shower is more about habit and social norms than health. Perhaps that’s why the frequency of bathing or showering varies so much from country to country.”

Perspectives

Shower frequency may have little to do with health

“Besides considering it healthier, people may choose to shower daily for a number of reasons, including: concerns about body odor, helping waking up, a morning routine that may include working out. Each of these has merit, especially considering that personal or work relationships can be jeopardized by complaints about body odor or personal hygiene. But what is considered acceptable in this regard from culture varies to culture. And some (perhaps a lot) of what we do when it comes to cleaning habits is influenced heavily by marketing.” —Dr. Robert H. Shmerling, ssenior faculty editor and editorial advisory board member, Harvard Health Publishing

Occupation is important to consider

“If you’re someone who has a laborious job, so you’re a teacher or maybe you work in health care, you probably are showering more often than the normal person.” — Adrianna Brach, today

Your child may not need a daily bath

“If getting your child to take a bath often means a struggle, you’ll be glad to know that a daily bath may not be necessary. How often your child needs a bath depends on your child’s age and activities.” — American Academy of Dermatology

Showers don’t always have to include soap

“Use soap on your groin, your armpits and your feet. These are areas that are prone to bacteria and can get smelly. Any other areas are likely good with water.” — University of Nebraska University Health Center

Taking multiple showers a day isn’t recommended

“Some people shower in the morning, after the gym, then again before bed. That’s not necessary and can be very drying and irritating to your skin.” —Dr. Shilpi Khetarpal, dermatologist, Cleveland Clinic

There are healthier ways to take a shower

If you have skin conditions, such as psoriasis, “limit your showers to 5 minutes and baths to 15 minutes or less,” and “use warm — NOT hot — water every time.” — American Academy of Dermatology

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