7 Weird Things That Happen To Your Body If You Don’t Shower For 2 Days
We've all been there, you come home late, exhausted, and ask yourself, "Do I really need to shower?" More often than not, you promise yourself that you'll shower in the morning, knowing good and well that you won't have time. Suddenly, it's been two days since you last showered and you feel fine but start to feel a bit grossed out, wondering how often do you actually have to shower?
If you're as lazy as me, you're actually in luck. "Skip your shower this morning? Good news: For most people, there is absolutely no health risk in skipping that shower," Edison de Mello, MD, Ph.D., tells Bustle. "Sure, if you sweat you could develop a bit of body odor and have a stinky afternoon. Even so, a daily shower is not really necessary."
Personally, if I do any strenuous activity where I'm sweating, I always shower after. But, if I have been pretty stagnant all day and get home tired, I don't mind waiting until the next day to hop in.
While there's no serious health risk to skipping a shower for two days, there are some effects to be aware of, especially if you are predisposed to certain skin reactions. Here's what can happen to your body if you don't shower for two days.
1. You Can't Contain Bad Bacteria
Our body has both good and bad bacteria. The good bacteria is helped along through soap and showers. Through strengthening the good bacteria, it's able to remove the bad bacteria from our bodies. So, when you skip on that shower, you’re letting a day go by where your body is not strengthening the good bacteria, thus making it more susceptible to the bad bacteria. And when you go one more day without bathing, it only adds to your chances of being vulnerable to bad bacteria. Dr. Aishah Muhammad, MD and personal trainer tells Bustle, “We are exposed to a whole host of bacteria during our day. By not showering, these bugs will remain on your skin and leave you at risk of developing different types of infections including skin and chest infections.”
2. You Can Catch A Cold
If bad bacteria are left on your body, they can enter your nose, mouth, and eyes, leading to you getting sick. When you shower, it cleans off all these germs that you've encountered throughout the day, including those that can make you sick. However, if you do take a few days between showers, consistently washing your hands can go a long way to prevent sickness. “By not washing, you are more likely to have a number of different bugs on your hands and face,” Dr. Muhammad says. “This puts you at risk of developing a cold or infection as bugs may be present and can leave your body fighting off their effects.”
3. You Can Break Out
When you aren't showering as regularly, your skin can become oily and salty — hello, sweat — leading to blemishes and breakouts. Although your skin can become oily and salty throughout the day either way, not showering means these bacteria not being thoroughly removed or cleaned. “Sebum produced by the skin accumulates when you do not wash,” Dr. Muhammad says. “This, along with bacteria living on the skin, can lead to blocked pores and a breakout of spots.” Though washing your face at the beginning and end of the day can help protect your face against acne breakouts, showers help ensure that you don’t have breakouts on your body either.
4. You Can Release Up To 30 Bad Smells
Little known fact, body odor is not caused by sweat but actually results from the gasses bacteria gives off as it consumes body protein and fatty acids. When you skip showering for a couple days, it can lead to your body releasing up to 30 bad smells.
"For your mental health’s sake, make sure you bathe enough to keep body odor at bay," De Mello says. "According to a 2015 study on Relationship deal breakers by Peter Jonason and colleagues smelliness ranks among the top relationship deal breakers." Although deodorants, perfumes, and wipes can sometimes help with odors, they can only mask smells that will still be there once the products wear off. Showers eliminate the odors by cleaning the bacteria entirely. Dr. Muhammad says, “Body odors form naturally as a result of bacteria on the skin breaking sweat down into acid. By not washing while continuing to sweat, bad smells will just get worse and worse.”
5. Your Skin Can Dry Out
If you suffer from skin conditions such as eczema, showering regularly can help keep them at bay. Skipping showering for a few days can lead to a flare-up. The National Eczema Organization recommends taking a shower or bath once a day to replace moisture in your skin. But do try to keep the shower on the shorter side and not too hot. Follow the shower with a layer of lotion on your skin. “Dead skin and grease naturally gather on the top layer of skin,” Dr. Muhammad says. “By not washing, this build up can leave your skin feeling itchy and dry.” She even warns against skin problems that you can have when you continue to postpone showers. “Dermatitis Neglecta is a rare skin condition that can develop as a result of not maintaining hygiene where dead skin cells build up and cause patches on the skin,” she tells Bustle.
6. Your Hair Can Get Greasy
If your hair is anything like mine, after two days of not being washed, it can start to get pretty greasy. By then, I have to load it with conditioner or it's not a good look. For the same reason you may get breakouts after a day or two of not showering, the oil you produce makes your hair greasy. “Sebaceous glands release an oily substance called sebum which gives your hair a natural shine however when an excess of sebum accumulates you can get greasy hair,” Dr. Muhammad says. “Hair naturally traps moisture against your scalp. By not washing for a number of days, grease, dirty and dead skin cells will accumulate giving you an itchy and dry scalp.”
7. You Can Get Brown Spots On Your Skin
A condition known as dermatitis neglecta occurs when dirt accumulates on your skin because of sweat not being washed off. This condition really only happens when your skin is consistently not being washed correctly, so it's not something to stress over if you skip the occasional shower because you’re too tired or feeling lazy, but it’s good to be aware of. But, if you have been skipping showers more often than usual and start to see brown spots on your skin, you should begin to shower more frequently and also contact your doctor to see if you may need topical treatments to help eliminate the issue.
At the end of the day, personal hygiene is an important part of taking care of your body. But, if you skip showering for a day or two, don't stress; we all do it.
Additional reporting by Syeda Khaula Saad.
This article was originally published on November 16, 2017 and was updated on June 27, 2019.