I work from home, interact with people almost entirely through my computer camera and, most days, only leave my apartment to walk my dog. Put another way, so long as I seem even the slightest bit presentable on video calls, I can reasonably get away without showering for, well, pretty much as long as I want. But “can” and “should” are two very different things, so in the name of hygiene and skin health, I asked dermatologist Anthony Rossi to tell me how often I should be showering so I can feel like a competent human.
“Most people over-shower,” says Rossi, “so showering more than once a day is probably excessive.” He does add, though, that showering after workouts and heavy bouts of sweating is a good idea — even if that means showering more than once a day — or else you can expect to face some pretty gnarly breakouts.
Because I spend most of my time in a chair at a desk, though, sweat is basically a non-issue. That being the case, Rossi says, “Once a day is fine, but you can go even less than that, especially if you have something like eczema (or atopic dermatitis), where showering removes the natural moisture in your skin.”
So… uh, how much less than once a day are we talking? “Every other day is fine,” Rossi says. “That would be a healthy balance between not showering too much, but also not under-showering.” If you choose to shower every other day or even every other, other day, he does suggest “wiping your armpits, groin and butt with a washcloth, baby wipes — or something — since you keep bacteria and moisture in those skin folds,” which could result in nasty infections if left to fester.
Infections aside, there are other reasons why Rossi says you should avoid going too long without showering, including the buildup of dead skin cells and other gunk that can result in acne, dandruff, general itchiness and dull-looking skin. Plus, science shows that showering makes you feel better, which can be especially beneficial if you spend a lot of time secluded at home, like I do, and we all know that a steamy shower can really help relieve some tension.
Still, I made sure to ask Rossi if showering every three days is fine, not because I do that constantly, like, all the time, or anything (shut up), and he says, “If you do shower every three days, definitely wipe down, especially around the groin, butt and armpits.”
Erm, that was kind of an approval, right?