In many parts of the world, taking a shower every day tends to be the norm. However, from a strictly medical perspective, it is not necessary for most people to shower this frequently.
Personal hygiene does provide health benefits, and most people do need to shower regularly. In addition to its use for routine washing and grooming, water offers benefits relating to pain relief and treatment in the form of hydrotherapy.
Baths, steam showers, saunas, and other bathing methods can:
improve immune function
ease muscle aches and pains
increase blood flow
make it easier to breathe
To a lesser extent, spending time in the shower can have these same effects. Showering cleans the skin and removes dead skin cells to help clear the pores and allow the skin cells to function. It washes away bacteria and other irritants that could cause rashes and other skin problems.
However, the main reason why people shower as much as they do is that it helps them meet social standards of cleanliness and personal appearance. Meeting these standards helps people feel at home in their working and social environments and their bodies.
Showering in different seasons
Shortening shower time to no more than 5–10 minutes reduces the likelihood of dry skin.
In most parts of the United States, winters are colder and dryer, while the summer is hotter and more humid.
These changing environmental conditions affect the ideal showering frequency.
In the winter, cold temperatures and indoor heating both contribute to dry skin. Many dermatologists recommend that individuals change their bathing routines during the winter to protect themselves from dry skin.
The following techniques may help people reduce the likelihood of dry skin:
Shortening shower time to no more than 5–10 minutes.
Closing the door to the bathroom to capture the steam and increase the humidity.
Replacing hot water and soap with warm water and gentle cleansers.
Using the smallest amount of cleanser possible to clean the skin.
Drying the skin gently after bathing.
Applying plenty of an oil-based moisturizing cream or ointment within 3 minutes of showering to trap moisture in the skin.
Showering at different ages
A person’s bathing needs change throughout their life.
The American Academy of Pediatrics say that the common practice of bathing babies daily is not really necessary. They suggest that the time to start regular full body washes is when infants are crawling around and beginning to eat food.
According to the American Academy of Dermatologists, although daily bathing is safe for children aged 6–11 years, they only need to take a shower every few days.
Once young people hit puberty, how often they need to shower will vary from person to person. Many people suggest that daily showering is necessary at this time.
Many teenagers are very physically active, and showers are a good idea after strenuous sports events or practices, including swimming, working out, and other physical activities.
The previously simple act of taking a shower can sometimes become more challenging for older adults.
Older adults may not require a shower every day to maintain the level of cleanliness necessary to protect their skin, ward off infection, and meet general standards of grooming. Taking a shower once or twice a week can often be sufficient to meet these criteria, and people can use warm washcloths in between to stay feeling fresh.
Older adults who can no longer bathe themselves can still maintain their independence by getting help with their daily activities from caregivers.