Stinking advice: Harvard study warns against showering every day

IF you want a healthy skin then stay out of the shower.

This is the message from a Harvard University study that says a daily shower can lead to skin problems such as dryness, irritation, itching, and infections.

The research, led by Robert Shmerling, indicates that daily cleansing can disrupt the balance of microorganisms on the skin.

And it may even promote the emergence of antibiotic-resistant organisms.

While the study warns against daily showering it does emphasis that neglecting personal hygiene altogether is probably even worse news with the growth of fungi between the toes and body odour the main risks.

According to experts, two to four showers per week are generally sufficient for maintaining hygiene, except for individuals with weakened immune systems.

The study also suggests that shorter showers, lasting approximately three minutes, with lukewarm water, are preferable to long, hot showers.

It recommends paying attention to the ingredients in skin-cleaning products, urging consumers to avoid products with petroleum derivatives or excessive fragrances, which can erode the skin’s protective layer and cause irritation.

For maintaining healthy skin, glycerin-based products with moisturising properties are recommended to soothe itching, create a natural protective barrier, and exfoliate while maintaining a pH-neutral balance.

This report may reignite a lively online debate about how often Spaniards shower compared to their European counterparts.

The discussion began when a Twitter user named Xavi Ruiz shared a graphic based on data from The Global Index and Wikipedia with percentages of inhabitants who shower every day. 

Graph showing how much Europeans shower

For Spain, the figure is 75 to 84%, while in Italy the figure was 95% and above. France and the UK, meanwhile, came in at 65% or below, while neighbouring Portugal was at 85 to 94%. 

The tweet prompted a shower  of responses, with some users questioning the validity of the data and others arguing that a daily dose of water and soap is unnecessary, according to scientific studies.

Others pointed to the need in hotter countries such as Spain, Portugal and Italy for more regular ablutions. “If it’s hotter, you are going to sweat more,” wrote one user. 

And of course there were plenty of jokes from Spaniards about the high figure for their own country.

“Then you catch the bus and you wonder where that high percentage is exactly,” wrote one user called Bahamut.

One Spanish user pointed to their experience at music festivals in the UK.

“At the showers in Glastonbury it was just foreigners in the queue,” he wrote. “And the only Europeans were Spaniards!”


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