Picture this: You’ve been working from home in your pajamas all day, but you’ve taken a break from yoga. Maybe you have a little hot sauce in your hair, but couch potato inertia is real. You may be asking yourself, “Do I really need to take a shower?” What about those times when you promise yourself you’ll take a shower in the morning, knowing full well you won’t have time? Suddenly, it’s been two days since you last did laundry, and you’re wondering how often you should be showering?
If you didn’t shower this morning, “for most people, there’s no health risk to skipping it,” says Edison de Mello, MD, founder and director of the Men’s Clinic. and Chief Medical Officer of Akasha Integrative Medicine Center. “Sure, if you sweat, you can get body odor and stink in the afternoon. However, you don’t need to shower every day.”
Taking a shower every day is not only unnecessary, it seems impossible for some people. Shower avoidance syndrome, sometimes called ablutophobia, is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by the fear of bathing. For those who don’t have such a phobia, but need to build up their energy for a few days to brave the water, a week without showering won’t do much for your body’s health, experts say.
How often you shower depends on your skin type and activity level. Knowing when and how to shower is important to your body and lifestyle. If working long hours at work makes you sweat every day, showering more often won’t make you feel gross. Does your skin tend to get overly dry? Make sure you moisturize after bathing.
While skipping a shower doesn’t pose any serious health risks, there are some effects to consider, especially if you’re prone to certain skin conditions like eczema. Here’s what can happen to your body if you don’t shower for two days.
Your body has good and bad bacteria. Your skin is an important barrier to harmful bacteria (the kind that cause disease) and the inside of your body, so showering prevents germs from entering your body (through your mouth, nose, and eyes). In addition, bathing improves the ratio of good bacteria (helps digest food and overall health) to bad bacteria in your body. So, when you don’t shower, your body will strengthen the good bacteria on your skin and make you more susceptible to the bad bacteria.
If you don’t shower for another day, it only makes you more susceptible to harmful bacteria, and not showering for a week makes you even more susceptible. “We’re exposed to tons of bacteria throughout the day,” says Aisha Muhammad, MD, a pediatrician and personal trainer. “If you don’t shower, these bugs can stay on your skin and put you at risk of various types of infections, including skin and chest infections.”