If you want to be clean, you better be taking a daily shower or soak in the bathtub, right? Not necessarily.
In fact, a doctor says that when it comes to your health, you really shouldn’t be showering every single day.
According to George Washington University’s Assistant Professor of Dermatology Dr. C. Brandon Mitchell, bathing daily could lead to an increase in infections. He says that excessive time in the shower strips skin of natural oils, disrupting good bacteria that supports the immune system.
“Your body is naturally a well-oiled machine. I think most people over-bathe,” he told TIME. “A daily shower isn’t necessary.”
Rather than bathing daily, Mitchell recommends focusing more on washing your hands regularly and cleaning your clothes more often. And if you have dry hair, the dermatology professor suggests you need to wash it less than you think.
“Some people with a dry scalp and hair probably only need to lather it every few weeks,” he said.
Infectious disease expert Dr. Elaine Larson at Columbia University agrees — and says that people only bathe frequently because of the stigma around it.
“I think showering is mostly for aesthetic reasons,” she said. “People think they’re showering for hygiene or to be cleaner, but bacteriologically, that’s not the case.”
In 2017, the University of Utah conducted a study where they analyzed the residents of a village in the Amazon. The study found that people in these remote villages have the most diverse bacteria and genetic functions when compared to other human groups. This, they say, proves Westerners are overly clean, affecting microbial populations.
If you’re worried about body odour, Mitchell says people should consider their skin health first. If you’re hydrated and healthy, you can most likely get away with a quick shower daily — but only apply soap to your armpits, feet and groin area.
“I tell patients who shower daily not to lather their whole bodies,” he said.
“Bathing will remove odor if you’re stinky or have been to the gym,” Larson added.