The baths vs shower debate has long been a hotly argued topic in households across the country. While some people love the idea of starting the day with a long soak, others can’t fathom the concept of sloshing around in a tub full of water.
Both showers and baths have some pretty brilliant health and wellbeing benefits, but which is actually better for you in the long term? We asked GP Dr Earim Chaudry to weigh in on the topic.
“Baths are great for people with skin conditions such as eczema, but it’s a myth that they’re better – they’re actually not quite as beneficial as showering.
“A shower is actually better for your skin, due to the fact that they expose the body to less water than a bath. Whether it’s a bath or a long shower though, exposing your skin to too much water can strip it of its natural oils. With frequent showering, the skin’s surface can break down, leading to irritation and inflammation,” says Dr Chaudry.
Frequent showering can also dehydrate your skin, wash away beneficial bacteria and increase risk of infection. The skin does a pretty efficient job of cleaning itself, so you don’t need to scrub yourself down all the time to stay hygienic.
“The ideal way to keep yourself clean is to take short, lukewarm showers and only use soap around the groin area, feet and armpits – basically anywhere that gives off odour after a particularly hot day or a workout,” says Dr Chaudry.
Your average bar of soap is designed to to remove oils from the skin, so using that soap all over your body means you might be stripping your skin of some beneficial natural oils.
The one benefit to baths though, is that if you’ve had a particularly stressful day and need to wind down, they are incredibly beneficial to your wellbeing. A hot bath before bed can increase your body temperature at night, which helps to synchronise your natural circadian rhythm – leading to better, deeper sleep.
Decreases in stress hormones, such as cortisol, have been reported with warm bathing, as research has found that they may help the balance of the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin.
So, how often should you be showering? Well, there’s a lot of conflicting advice out there. Many dermatologists would recommend a shower every other day, or two to three times a week.
In warmer weather conditions, you might not feel comfortable with that frequency, so taking a shower every day certainly isn’t the end of the world. And that’s especially the case if you’re highly active.
“If you want to try showering every other day, give yourself a sponge bath and wash your face, armpits, and groin with a washcloth on your non-showering days. For optimal skin health, don’t shower using hot water, and limit shower time to five to 10 minutes. This is not only good for you, but also beneficial to the environment,” says Dr Chaudry.
– With PA
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