May 14, 2018
How often do you get all lathered up? Most Americans “come clean” by showering or bathing almost on a daily basis—which is, according to a Euromonitor International poll, the global average as well.
However, we are not as squeaky clean as we think, compared to some of our compadres worldwide. For example in Mexico, the Middle East, and Australia, eight showers a week have become the norm.
And closer to the Equator—in Colombia and Brazil—that number goes even higher, to 10-12 showers a week, respectively.
Meanwhile, people living in China, Japan and the United Kingdom bathe just a little less frequently, turning the tap on about five times a week.
That’s a pretty good level of hygiene worldwide, we all would agree. But, according to Euromonitor, there still are major discrepancies when you look at how much actual washing actually goes on in the shower.
For example, the researchers say, most people do not wash their hair during every shower. In the United States, we only shampoo an average of four times a week.
And that’s okay, experts agree: Speaking to the site WebMD, Carolyn Goh, MD, assistant clinical professor of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, advised that only a small group needs to shampoo daily, including those with very fine hair, those who exercises (and sweat) frequently, and those who live in very humid places.
What’s more, surprisingly enough, those in the know are not washing their entire bodies: “I tell patients who shower daily not to lather their whole bodies,” Dr. C. Brandon Mitchell, assistant professor of Dermatology at George Washington University, told Time magazine in 2016. “Hit your pits, butt and groin, which are the areas that produce strong-smelling secretions. The rest of your body doesn’t need much soaping.”
In fact, there such a thing as over-bathing, which can leave you at risk for some health issues, the same story in Time reported.
“Dry, cracked skin opens up gaps that infection-causing germs can slip through. That means frequent bathing when your skin is already dry—and especially as you age, when your skin becomes thinner and less hydrated—may increase the odds of coming down with something,” Dr. Elaine Larson, an infectious disease expert and associate dean for Research at Columbia University School of Nursing, told the weekly magazine.
Finally, you may want to reconsider how long you stay in your shower, if you live in an urban area, according to Dr. Richard Gallo, chief of Dermatology at UC San Diego. He told The New York Times, “If you’re on city water and you don’t have a filter on your shower, showering is a major source of exposure to carcinogenic chlorination byproducts such as trihalomethanes (THMs). THMs are associated with bladder cancer, gestational and developmental problems.”
He points out that studies have shown that showering and bathing are important routes of exposure to these carcinogenics—and may actually represent more of your total exposure than the water you drink.
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