Opinion: society demands we take daily showers; why would we go without them?

Karen Madej

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In addition to washing my hands with antibacterial soap approximately fifty times a day (probably not that much in reality - but I do drink a lot of water), I shower or have a bath once a week, and my skin rewards me with perfect hydration. No dryness. A non-itchy, naturally oiled skin is why I choose not to shower every day.

When I have a bath to relax, I always wash and shower afterward as the dirty bathwater drains away. I'm British. At least 1 in 4 of us stopped showering every day since the pandemic started. I don't wear deodorant. I only apply makeup when on a zoom call, going for a walk to the supermarket, or exercising.

Sometimes I don't wash my hair for a week or until my scalp gets itchy. Call me nasty; I don't mind. We can choose for ourselves what we need hygienically.

“Dirt is simply matter out of place.” Mary Douglas

What makes body odor?

The sweat produced by healthy people is not likely to smell unpleasant until the compounds in the sweat are broken down into simpler molecules. We have about one thousand varieties of bacteria inhabiting our skin. We are born with bacterial flora, and our skin adapts or reacts to our environment.

In the Diet quality and the attractiveness of male body odor study, Australian psychologists assessed dietary fruit and vegetable intake (carotenoids - red, orange, and yellow) using skin spectrophotometry and a food frequency questionnaire.

Male study participants provided armpit sweat samples and a record of what they ate. Female participants considered the samples. The skin spectrophotometry measure discovered that males who ate a lot of fruit and veg produced "pleasant, floral, sweet, and medicinal qualities." The sweat from males who self-reported eating greater quantities of "fat, meat, egg and tofu" was also pleasant.

However, simple carbohydrate food types (e.g., fructose/corn syrup) produced "stronger smelling less pleasant sweat."

A significant contributor to good health, both in the short and longer term, is a diet rich in fruit and vegetables. Science Direct

I eat a lot of fresh fruit and veg and limit my naughty carbs like chips and cakes. But left too long, sweat will get nasty! So, when I can't stand the smell of my sweaty armpits, I wash them with antibacterial soap. How about you?

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In 5 foods and drinks that affect body odor, by Dena Champion, RD, we find that some people develop a rare metabolic disorder that causes a defect in enzyme production. The result is body odor called trimethylaminuria. Within a few hours of eating, their body gives off a fishy smell because they can't break down the chemical found in seafood.

One of the other foods mentioned includes cruciferous vegetables - cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and broccoli - all high in fiber; they can cause some gassy rotten egg smells. Dena Champion, RD, advises that these vegetables are very good for us and start with small amounts to see how much your digestive system can manage.

Folks who move less, don't get dirty or sweaty might choose to wash less. Are you someone who waits for the stink before getting in the shower?

Or perhaps you take three showers a day? A cold one to wake up, a warm one after a workout, and the third - a hot one after work.

Or do you prefer to listen to what your body tells you as Healthline advises:

"Since there are no hard or fast rules on how much is too much, it's important that you get to know your body and determine what your skin can tolerate."

If you shower too much it can lead to discomfort, and you may experience:
itching
dry, flaky skin
flare-ups of skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis
dry, brittle hair

Healthline also says: If you go too long between showers, you may experience:

  • increased body odor
  • acne
  • flare-ups of skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis
  • skin infections
  • areas of dark or discolored skin
  • in extreme cases, dermatitis neglecta, thick patches of scaly skin

Most days, I use liquid soap and water for my pits, bits, and feet, especially when I get sweaty from powerwalking. My face gets washed twice a day with an all-natural cleanser and water because it gets exposed to all sorts of pollution outdoors.

I'm so bored with cleaning and washing regularly. I choose to do the chores when necessary. I'm fifty-five years old, live alone, and work from home, so who can I annoy if I get a little smelly now and then?

What do you think on the subject of why you would or would not take a shower daily?

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Passionate about climate change and living a debt-free, sustainable life. Determined to learn how to and build an adobe house or Earthship. The goal is to live off-grid and off the land. Energy for heat and to power electrical devices and appliances will use solar, wind, and hydro-powered electricity. No trees will die to make my home.

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