When it comes to hygiene, it's easy to think that the more you clean and groom yourself, the healthier you'll be. However, there are times when cleaning a body part can do more harm than good, and there are a number of self-cleaning body parts, and body parts you don't really need to clean that often to keep them healthy. Although it might be tempting to want to interfere with the process, some body parts can take care of thesmelves and you're better off leaving them untouched.
"Some people believe that in order to maintain strong personal hygiene and remain in optimal health, they must constantly wash and clean every last inch of their body," Dr. Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, physician and health and wellness expert", tells Bustle. "However, there are some body parts that are really better left untouched, since they already possess self cleansing properties. The human body is quite amazing and intricately designed such that most of our body parts and organs serve a crucial and relevant function."
Next time you're in the shower or considering buying some special cleansing product, you might want to think twice about whether or not it's necessary. Here are seven areas of your body that don't need to be cleaned as often as you think, according to experts.
1. Ear Canal
Most people use cotton swabs to clean out their ears, but the consensus of physicians is that this act can cause more harm than good. "The skin of the ear canal is very fragile, and [cotton swab] use can cause irritation, swelling, and small tears in the ear canal skin that can make them itch more or put them at risk for infections," Dr. Elisa Illing, IU Health otolaryngologist tells Bustle. "The wax in the ear canals is actually protective against external ear infections." If you do feel there is a blockage in your ear, or that it should be cleaned for any reason, speak with your doctor and they can help you clean your ears in a safe way.
When it comes to your vagina, cleaning with certain soaps or products may not be a good idea. "Cleaning your vagina with scented soaps, liquids, douches, and other products can interrupt the natural balance of good and bad bacteria in the region," says Dr. Okeke-Igbokwe. "The vagina is often referred to as a 'self-cleaning oven' for a reason. It produces various fluids and discharge that helps to lubricate, clean, and protect the organ."
To avoid any troubles, you want to avoid cleaning out the eyes. "The lacrimal glands produce tears which not only help to lubricate the eyes but also function to cleanse and protect the eyes from debris and other irritants," says Dr. Okeke-Igbokwe. As with your ears, if something is in your eye and irritating it, speak with your doctor about the best way to extract it.
The nose is also a body part that is best left "unpicked." Many adults are guilty of nose-picking, which can cause nosebleeds, swelling in the nose, and crusting, which all lead to more nose irritation, according to Dr. Illing. "Rather than using your finger or a Kleenex, if you feel your nose is congested or dirty, the safest measure to treat yourself is to use saline sprays or rinses," she says. "Make sure if you use the saline rinses, you use bottled or distilled water, to make sure you aren't introducing bacteria or harmful substances to your nose."
Despite popular belief, colon cleanses are not necessary and may come with some health risks. "The digestive tract already aids in removing waste from your system," says Dr. Okeke-Igbokwe. "The one instance that it is actually necessary is when prepping for a colonoscopy. If you are worried about your gastrointestinal health, you should really speak to your doctor about any concerns. Incorporating high fiber foods into your diet and also ensuring that you stay well hydrated are good starting points though to help keep the colon healthy."
"You can wash your hair too frequently and this may lead to a dermatitis or scalp condition," Ken L. Williams Jr., D.O., FISHRS, surgeon and founder of Orange County Hair Restoration, tells Bustle. "Other factors that may play a role in developing scalp conditions are chemicals within the shampoos which may act as irritants." Unfortunately, there is no science-based research or knowledge on how often is ideal to shampoo. "How often we shampoo our hair will depend upon how oily it gets," he says. "It would be normal to shampoo hair once a day if oil production is higher than normal. Patients with normal oil gland production can wash their hair every other day, while some patients with dry scalps should limit washing hair to once or twice a week."
7. Arms & Legs
It would seem appropriate to scrub everything down in the shower, but this isn't actually necessary. "Arms and legs don’t produce much oil, so by using soap on them daily you can cause the skin to dry out," Dr. Kelly Kasper, IU Health OBGYN tells Bustle.
Although it may be tempting to clean these body parts daily, remember that not all parts of you will need it. While some body parts may need to be cleaned only occasionally, others can be left alone to do the job themselves.