I’ve always been an everyday shower kind of girl. Nothing feels better than a steady stream of burning hot water to wash off the dirt and grime at the end of the day before crawling into bed. But I’ll be honest, I’m also a lazy bitch, and some days I just don’t feel like showering. IDK, is that gross? At what point is it okay to skip a wash? I decided to ask a few medical experts to weigh in on how long you can really get away with not showering before it becomes, like, unhealthy.
How Much Time Is *Too Much Time* To Not Shower?
“According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it’s actually recommended to shower as little as twice a week because it allows [our] immune systems to develop outside a sterile environment,” says board-certified pathologist LaFarra Young, MD. So my dream of not showering every day can become a not-so-shameworthy reality for me? Score! “While adults in many countries shower at least once a day, the frequency of cleaning one’s body really depends on a few things, like whether we sweat a lot, are physically active, are prone to clogged pores and acne, or even desire to be in the company of others,” explains Dr. Young. In other words, not showering for a few days is 100% fair game, especially if you don’t plan to be around people or you’re completely fine rocking some gnarly B.O.
Potential smells aside, board-certified dermatologist Fran Cook-Bolden, MD, FAAD notes shower frequency mainly depends on your skin type. For example, she says you might not shower as often if you have dry or sensitive skin or conditions like eczema that are associated with dry skin (or you’re #blessed with all of the above like me). If you’ve just been at home lying in bed binging Netflix all day, you probably don’t need to shower that night.
But if you have oily skin, sweat a lot no matter the season, are extremely active, or work in a not-so-sterile environment, she says you may want to shower at least once a day. “Although this might be way too much for the average person, causing the skin to be stripped of its normal protective oils and upsetting the ‘good’ bacteria protective balance, [you should be fine] as long as you replenish the moisture of the skin with bland, non-fragranced, ceramide–based emollients,” she says.
Need a more definite answer? Here’s a friendly daily checklist for you. Did you do any at-home workouts? Did you run to the grocery store? Is your skin super oily? Do you care if you smell? If you answered “yes” to any or all of those questions, you should probably shower today. If you didn’t do any of those things and you basically just chilled in bed all day, bathe at your own discretion (or intolerable level of stank).
Health Risks Of Not Showering Enough
To literally no one’s surprise, the risks of not bathing frequently enough are what you’d probably expect. According to Dr. Cook-Bolden, some of the most common side effects you’ll experience include increased body odor, breakouts (like acne, boils, and abscesses), and flare-ups of skin conditions. “Some adults who go longer than 3-4 days between showers run the risk of accumulating patches of dark, scaly skin, especially in oily areas, and an accumulation of ‘bad’ bacteria which can lead to fungal or bacterial infections,” adds Dr. Young. So basically, you might smell bad, get pimples, and score a skin infection if you don’t shower as often as you need to. Noted.
I don’t know about you, but I think I’m gonna play it safe by continuing to shower every other day. At your own risk, you can say fuck it and shower as often as you want — I support whichever decision you make. But if you choose the latter, just be mindful of the potential consequences, especially if you’ll be around other people.