When taking a shower, it may seem like it's all about getting clean, relaxing, and spending way too much time mulling over all your ideas/worries/hopes/and dreams. (Not just me? OK, didn't think so.) But I bet you didn't know that, while you're in their soaking and scrubbing and thinking, there are some other shower habits that can make you sick.
You obviously don't want to leave your bathroom worse off than when you went in, so let's first talk about how to have the perfect shower. As Dr. Jeremy Fenton, of Schweiger Dermatology Group tells me, you should keep your shower within the five to ten minute range "at a temperature that doesn’t steam up the whole bathroom, but is comfortable." This will prevent you from drying out your skin — especially during the winter when your skin is already less moisturized — as well as making yourself sick from overly-steamy conditions.
He also suggests some important post-shower tips. "Remember to moisturize soon after getting out of the shower, as this will help seal in the moisture. I usually recommend a quick pat dry with a towel and then get the moisturizer on within the first three minutes." With these healthy tips in mind, here are some unhealthy showering habits that can make you sick.
1. Showering Way Too Frequently
Nothing's more relaxing than a long, hot shower. But if you hop in too regularly — like more than once per day — it can start to dry out your skin. As Dr. Scott Schreiber tells me, this is of particular concern as you get older, since aging skin produces less oil, thus leading to even more dryness as well as potential cracking of the skin. "Due to this, we should decrease the number of shower we take," he says.
2. Soaking In Super Hot Water
Again, hot shower? Best thing ever. But don't linger in that steam and heat for too long. "Taking extremely hot showers may feel good, but it brings blood to the surface, promoting inflammation," Schreiber says. It can also affect your blood pressure, leaving you feeling woozy and overheated.
3. Exfoliating Like It's Goin' Outta Style
You may think it's a good idea to briskly scrub away dead skin, but a dramatic exfoliating habit can actually do more harm than good. "Your skin does not need daily scrubbing and exfoliation to remove these older cells," board-certified dermatologist Tsippora Shainhouse MD, FAAD, FRCPC tells Bustle. "In fact, some physical scrubs (micro-scrubbers, crushed seeds/shells) can create micro-tears in the skin, which can actually cause irritation and damage to sensitive skin." Keep it to once or twice a week, at most.
4. Using A Dirty Loofah Day In And Day Out
That loofah that hangs in your shower may look clean, but it's likely harboring all sorts of gross bacteria. "Loofahs, wash cloths, and back scrubbers pick up dead skin cells, as well as surface bacteria and yeast that lives on the skin," Shainhouse says. "These germs are scrubbed right back onto your skin every time you re-use that loofah or cloth. This can lead to acne-like breakouts and rashes." To keep things cleaner, rinse your loofah thoroughly and let it fully dry outside the bathroom stall between each use. Shainhouse also says you should throw it in the dishwasher for a more thorough cleaning.
5. Soaping Up Your Entire Bod Every Day
Most of us are in the habit of soaping up all our bits on the daily, even though it's totally not necessary. "Soaps can be harsh and remove the protective, natural oil barrier on the skin," Shainhouse says. "If you aren’t dirty, you can limit soaping up to the greasy/smelly parts (upper back, armpits, breasts, genitals, feet). If you feel like you must shower more than once a day ... only use soap once."
6. Leaving Your Razor In The Shower
If you keep your razor in the shower, it may be a good idea to move it to drier grounds. "Keep your razor in a dry place so it can dry out between uses," Fenton says. "Sitting it in a damp environment will allow it to breed bacteria, making an infection more likely. This can lead to a staph infection in the skin."
7. Not Drying Off Thoroughly
While it may seem like a no brainer, do make sure you're toweling off properly post shower. "Not only bacteria, but also fungus loves to grow in moist environments," Fenton says. "This means that after you shower, let your feet dry out before putting your socks and shoes on, otherwise you are creating a more hospitable environment to any foot fungus that may have settled in."
8. Showering Without A Filter
For the most part it's not a big deal to hop in your shower, as is. If you don't have great city water, however, consider installing a shower filter. "Chlorine and other chemicals in the shower water can cause health to deteriorate," Schreiber says. Not only can chlorine dry out your skin and hair, but it's not something you want to marinate in daily, either.
9. Slathering Yourself In Toxic Bath Products
You probably already try avoid toxic beauty products, so consider paying the same amount of attention to your bath products, too. "Many bath products contain harmful chemicals, some of which are known carcinogens (cause cancer) and others are endocrine disruptors," Schreiber says. "Using these over time can contribute to overall poor health."
10. Taking Too Many Trips To The Tub
If you're more of a bath person, avoid soaking in them for too long — no matter how relaxing it may feel. "Taking baths rather than showers can lead to contracting a urinary tract infection (UTI)," the experts at UTItreatment.com tell me. "Sitting in a bath makes it easier for bath products like harsh soaps, perfumed body wash, or unclean water to enter the urinary tract." And that can lead to all sorts of trouble.
11. Not Cleaning Up All That Mildew
Showers may seem self-cleaning because, you know, they're covered in soap and water. But we all know, deep down, that's not really the case. So go ahead and get in the habit of cleaning your bathroom, as well as periodically checking for mildew and mold. Schreiber suggests you inspect the shower head and the shower curtain, specifically. "They have the potential to grow harmful stuff as well."
12. Breathing In That Chemically Steam
Another reason to get a shower filter? To avoid luxuriating in a chemical sauna. Aside from chlorine, some tap waters can contain other toxins that you just don't want to breathe in. "Taking a long, hot shower makes all of this worse," Schreiber says. "Inhaling the steam and rinsing your body with all these chemicals can really add up over time."
13. Leaving Things In A Slippery State
While falling obviously won't make you "sick," per se, it's certainly something you want to avoid. "Falls in showers are responsible for many fractures, sprains, and even head and neck injuries," board-certified orthopedic surgeon Barbara Bergin, MD, tells Bustle. "Make sure your shower floors are not slippery. Use rubber mats ... [and] make sure there is a mat on the floor outside your shower, so your heel doesn't slide when you step out of the shower."
While you don't want to obsess over the state of your bathroom, it's certainly a good idea to be aware of how your shower habits can make you sick. So get thyself a filter, put down some bath mats, and enjoy (the occasional) soak.
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