Doctor issues warning about staying in the shower for too long – how long is too long?

Showering: Dermatologist recommends ways to keep skin healthy

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It is easy to lose track of time when showering because bathing in warm water is relaxing. The daily practice confers both mental and physical health benefits. But you can spend too long in the shower. Speaking to, cosmetic doctor Dr Rekha Tailor of Health & Aesthetics issued a health warning about indulgent showers.

“Whilst showering is of course a necessary way to wash away sweat and dead skin cells, remove dirt, and prevent body odour, daily showers can also have a negative effect on your skin,” she explained.

“Washing the skin too often and for prolonged periods of time can remove the natural oils and affect the natural bacteria that grows there to support your immune system.”

This view has been echoed by health bodies, such as Harvard Health.

According to Harvard Health, normal, healthy skin maintains a layer of oil and a balance of “good” bacteria and other microorganisms.

“Washing and scrubbing removes these, especially if the water is hot,” warns the health body.

In addition to compromising your immune system, removing natural bacteria can cause the following problems:

  • Skin may become dry, irritated, or itchy.
  • Dry, cracked skin may allow bacteria and allergens to breach the barrier skin is supposed to provide, allowing skin infections and allergic reactions to occur.

According to Dr Tailor, the general advice for showers is the shorter the better, with some experts advising that five minutes is long enough.

It is not just shower duration that can have a negative impact on one’s health.

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According to Dr Tailor, showering daily can produce ill-effects too.

She explained: “There is evidence to suggest that not showering every day will result in improved skin quality.

“The theory behind it being that it allows the skin’s natural oils to regenerate resulting in skin that retains moisture and hydration better. In order for skin to remain healthy it needs to retain a layer of oil.”

What’s more, the products you use in the shower can compromise your skin’s natural defences.

Dr Tailor explained: “Our skin is made up of a microbiome – this is the term used to describe all the organisms that live on our skin.

“It includes bacteria, fungi and viruses and so on.

“If this balance of microorganisms and if this is altered too much with shower-gel and over-washing, the skin can lose it’s natural defence mechanisms and affect the immune system so that the skin is more prone to problems such as dryness, infections and sensitivity.”

As she pointed out, for people with skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema, showering can exacerbate the symptoms.

“It’s also worth considering the impact on the environment and how much kinder it is to the environment to try and use less water by showering less frequently.”

How many times should you shower a week?

“While there is no ideal frequency, experts suggest that showering several times per week is plenty for most people,” reports Harvard Health.

Unless you are grimy, sweaty, or have other reasons to shower more often, it adds.

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