Do you know what really divides people? Showering. There are people who LOVE to shower, and there are people who HATE to shower, and there aren’t that many people who feel lukewarm (puns!) about the whole showering thing. We are not here today to judge anyone’s showering preferences, we are here to share some mega-scientific showering news.
Two dermatologists told BuzzFeed Life that Americans shower way more than they need to. This news isn’t terribly surprising, considering the fact that most of us know at least one person who showers two to three times a day. Well, the reality is we could really be showering once every two to three days.
The history behind our modern bathing rituals (and cultural over-showering) is pretty interesting, so let’s have a look-see, shall we?
Dr. Joshua Zeichner, assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, said that our showering frequency and perception of body odor is “really more of a cultural phenomenon.” Dr. Ranella Hirsch, a dermatologist in Boston, agreed telling BuzzFeed. “We overbathe in this country, and that’s really important to realize,” she said. “A lot of the reason we do it is because of societal norms.”
But where did those norms originate from, you may be wondering? Well, for starters — advertising. Really really, ridiculously good (looking) advertising.
Katherine Ashenburg, author of The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History, told BuzzFeed Life, “After the Civil War, both advertising and toilet soap (AKA body soap) became more prevalent in the United States. Americans turned out to be much more gullible and susceptible to these things than Europeans.” Advertisements started working, and people started bathing more often, leaving them with less body odor.
Which, to me, doesn’t sound terrible.
And now on to the science of showering: Zeichner and Hirsche reported to BuzzFeed that frequent showering (specifically in hot water) can dry out skin and cause irritation, wash away good bacteria that exists on the skin, and introduce small cracks that put people at a higher risk of infection. That part definitely sounds terrible.
According to BuzFeed Life, the doctors also said that parents shouldn’t bathe babies and toddlers every day. “Early exposure to dirt and bacteria may make the skin less sensitive as you age and prevent allergies and conditions like eczema”.
So, what we’ve learned is that next time you want to sleep in or are too cold to get undressed to get in the shower, just don’t! And don’t you dare feel bad about it.