- Daily showers do not improve health and can cause skin problems or other health issues. In fact, daily showers can even be detrimental to health
- Washing and scrubbing removes not only dead skin, harmful bacteria and irritants, but also, among other things, the protective hydrolipidic film, especially if the water is hot
- This can make the skin dry, irritated, cracked and itchy
- Breaking the protective barrier on the skin can increase susceptibility to infection
- For most people, taking a shower a few times a week is sufficient
“The dirtiest man in the world” – hasn’t taken a bath in over 60 years
“The world’s dirtiest man”, also known as “Amou Haji”, died on 23 October at the age of 94. This happened a few months after he took his first bath in decades, Iranian media reported. The man lived in the village of Deżgah in south-western Iran. Local media reported that Haji, covered in soot and living in a hut made of hollow blocks, had not washed himself with soap and water for more than 60 years. The villagers explained that he had “experienced setbacks in his youth” that led him to stop washing. Moreover, “the dirtiest man in the world”, he believed that if he washed – he would get sick.
As the Iranian news agency Irna described, on one occasion Haji jumped out of the car in which neighbours were driving him to the river, wanting to wash him. Eventually, however, the persuasions had an effect. A few months ago, the locals persuaded the “dirtiest man in the world” to take a bath. Shortly afterwards, ‘Amou Haji’ fell ill and later died.
After his death, the ‘title of the world’s dirtiest man’ may go to an Indian who, like Haji, did not bathe (and brush his teeth) for most of his life. Back in 2009. “The Hindustan Times reported that Kailash ‘Kalau’ Singh had not washed for more than 30 years.
For most of us, it is difficult to imagine how one can endure without bathing and washing at all for a few days, let alone for decades. Given the baffling circumstances of the death of the “world’s dirtiest man”, however, many people wonder if indeed “frequent washing, shortens life”?
“Daily showers can even be detrimental to health”.
“When it comes to health concerns, it is not at all clear that a daily shower will do much. In fact, it may even be detrimental to health,” – writes Dr Robert Shmerling of Harvard Medical School straightforwardly. Of course, a bath or shower helps to clean pores and remove dead skin, allowing skin cells to function, but it also allows us to wash away bacteria and irritants that can cause rashes and other skin problems.
On the other hand, however, washing and scrubbing removes the ‘good bacteria’ and the protective hydrolipidic layer (especially if the water is hot). And here are the possible effects of these actions:
The skin may become dry, irritated or itchy.
Dry, cracked skin can allow bacteria and allergens to overcome the protective barrier, increasing the risk of skin infections and allergic reactions.
Antibacterial soaps can also destroy the ‘good’ micro-organisms. This disrupts the balance of microorganisms on the skin.
Our immune system needs some stimulation to produce protective antibodies and “immune memory”. – The sterile environment makes this impossible. This is one reason why some paediatricians and dermatologists advise against bathing children daily. Dr Robert Shmerling warns that frequent baths or showers throughout life can weaken the immune system.
How often should I shower?
‘There is no strong scientific evidence that you need to bathe or shower after a certain time – it’s mainly a matter of personal preference,’ dermatologist Dr Angela Lamb pointed out on Today. The second important point is that how often you should shower depends on a number of factors, including your job type, skin type, age, activity level, climate/season.
While there is no ideal frequency, experts suggest that for most people, taking a shower a few times a week is sufficient, says Dr Shmerling, adding: – “Short showers (lasting three or four minutes) ‘with emphasis’ on the armpits and groin may be sufficient.” Some medical recommendations say that for basic physical and health needs, taking a shower once or twice a week is sufficient.
We are talking here about bathing and showering, which can in no way replace daily hygiene. Hand washing is a separate topic – we should do it several times a day (for about 30 seconds)! And not only to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection, but also to protect ourselves against, among other things, hepatitis A, salmonella, dysentery, tapeworm and other parasites.