Splish, Splash, How Often Should You Take a Bath?

Israel's hot and sweaty season is just around the corner, but before you get used to frequent showers to stay cool, consider the ramifications on your health and on the environment.

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Israel's hot and sweaty summer is looming before us, and with it comes the frequent showers at home. To beat the heat (and to stay smelling fresh), most Israelis shower several times a day when the mercury soars. But is it really a good idea to do so?

The answer I received from Dr. Rachel Luzzati, an expert in family medicine for the Clalit health maintenance organization in the Haifa area, was surprising. She says that we really don't need to shower so much, and that doing so can even cause skin damage.

"Two to three full showers a week are certainly enough to maintain proper hygiene," she says. "Of course, showers maintain hygiene and skincare and are also good for reducing a fever, but copious showering can cause skin irritation, a decrease in the skin's natural fats and damage to the healthy covering the body creates in order to fight the fungi and bacteria that are naturally present on the skin. If you want to wash sensitive areas of the skin every day, you can do so by washing specific areas (by using a bidet, for example). The use of solid soap is recommended. "

Luzzati says that the primary reason skin is damaged in the shower is because it's difficult to truly wash away the majority of liquid soaps, and residues left behind can lead to irritation. She has a firm stance on shampooing, saying, "You really don't need to wash your hair more than two or three times a week. Frequent shampooing can introduce large quantities of water into the ear canal. This changes the pH balance and the ratio of bacteria to fungi in the ear canal, increasing the risk of infection. Frequent shampooing also increases the risk of dandruff as the hair has more moisture and the scalp is wet." She also warns against another health risk that stems from numerous showers. "A hypothesis is being investigated that frequent showers are the cause of the widespread lack of Vitamin D the population currently has. Part of the vitamin's formation takes place on the skin and the showers damage this process."

She also emphasizes the social stigmas that accompany lack of showering. "In recent decades we increased the amount of showers [we take]. This mainly stems from societal rather than health considerations. Our society is not accepting of bodily odor Every smell bothers us, which is why there is frequent use of deodorants and soaps. Society is leading us to a world devoid of natural scent, or to a world that smells synthetic and artificial."

Taking a bath may not always be good for your health.Credit: Eran Wolkowski

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