As we’re learning throughout the course of the global COVID-19 pandemic, people who are stuck at home are putting a stop to a lot of formerly normal things. In fact, a lot of us are even pushing our limits with our newfound WFH habits. One of the biggest cases of this? Skipping our daily showers. But: How long can you go without showering, really?
Dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, MD, previously told Well+Good that “your entire body does not need to be washed daily.” So there’s that. But given that many of us aren’t leaving our houses, aren’t working up a sweat, and aren’t coming into contact with the dirt and grime that would need to be usually rid from our bodies, there’s less and less motivation to hop in and suds up.
According to Shirley Chi, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Los Angeles, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Showering “once every three days is fine.” If you have a skin condition, the answer is different, however. “If you have very dry skin or a history of eczema, I recommend taking a quick shower once daily to replenish your skin’s moisture and kill germs,” she says, noting that you should moisturize immediately following to lock in moisture. “If your skin tends not to be dry, you could extend it to every other day or so.”
“You can probably go for as long as you want without showering without too much affecting your health.” —Jason Tetro, microbiologist
If you take it from a certified germ expert, though, you can skip showering for as long as you wish. “You can probably go for as long as you want without showering without too much affecting your health,” says Jason Tetro, a microbiologist and author of The Germ Files. “It’s good to wash your privates every few days at least to be sure they are not at risk for contamination from fecal bacteria leading to UTIs, but the rest of your body can take care of itself.”
Sure, but will you smell gnarly? “Oh you will smell… probably a lot, but that’s because of the bacteria that’s on your body,” says Tetro (who makes a good point that this will ensure others want to be socially distanced from you). He even says that, as long as you keep your urinary tract clean, you can even ditch showers after workouts. If you’re scratching your head wondering why this is the case, there are actually studies that explain the science behind the safety of not showering. Tetro notes that your skin takes care of itself because of a combination of microbes and your immune function which work together to keep you clean. Essentially, the healthy bacteria that live on your body do your most essential processes—no shower, rinse, and repeat necessary.
It’s up to you how often you suds up, but without a true impetus, why not test your bod’s very impressive self-cleaning skills?