Showering: Dermatologist recommends ways to keep skin healthy
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The benefits of showering are manifold. The daily practice boosts the skin barrier and is stress-busting, among other things. However, you can pay a heavy price for not spending long enough in the shower.
“Showering for less than five minutes may not be long enough to cleanse your body, and can cause bacterial or fungal infections,” warned Abbas Kanani, pharmacist at Chemist Click.
Mr Kanani puts the optimal time for showering at eight to ten minutes.
“In regards to how long to shower for, around eigh to ten minutes is usually enough time to hydrate your skin and cleanse.”
Showering for too long can present its own health risks.
Mr Kanani explained: “Showering for too long (especially in a hot shower) can strip your skin of its natural oils, causing it to become dry.”
To lock in moisture after a shower, he advised using an aqueous based cream to moisturise.
Is showering every day bad for you?
It can be tempting to shower every day, considering the practice helps you to wake up and removes unwanted body odour.
Showering every day may prove counterintuitive, however.
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Normal, healthy skin maintains a layer of oil and a balance of “good” bacteria and other microorganisms.
As Harvard Health explains, washing and scrubbing every day removes these, especially if the water is hot.
As a result:
- Skin may become dry, irritated, or itchy.
- Dry, cracked skin may allow bacteria and allergens to breach the barrier skin is supposed to provide, allowing skin infections and allergic reactions to occur.
- Antibacterial soaps can actually kill off normal bacteria. This upsets the balance of microorganisms on the skin and encourages the emergence of hardier, less friendly organisms that are more resistant to antibiotics.
- Our immune systems need a certain amount of stimulation by normal microorganisms, dirt, and other environmental exposures in order to create protective antibodies and “immune memory.” This is one reason why some paediatricians and dermatologists recommend against daily baths for kids. Frequent baths or showers throughout a lifetime may reduce the ability of the immune system to do its job.
There could be other reasons to lose your enthusiasm for the daily shower.
“Some people suggest that the water with which we clean ourselves may contain salts, heavy metals, chlorine, fluoride, pesticides, and other chemicals,” notes Harvard Health.
“These may cause problems, too.”
Emphasising the potential risks should not eclipse the benefits of showering, however.
In fact, cold showers may be particularly beneficial.
Washing your skin and hair with cold water has many hidden benefits.
A cold shower can improve your blood circulation, for example.
Holland and Barrett explains: “By reducing your core body temperature through showering or bathing in cold water, your body has to work harder and faster to warm itself up.
“It does this by increasing blood flow to the surface of your skin, therefore promoting healthy circulation.”
Healthy circulation is key to warding off the threat of stroke and heart problems.
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