All the Ways Dirt, Sweat and Dead Skin Wreck Your Epidermis


Chances are, like everyone else, you hop into the shower at even the thought of dirt and/or sweat grazing your skin. And while that “cleanliness-is-next-to-godliness” impulse isn’t exactly necessary—dermatologists say showering once or twice a week is enough to maintain an acceptable level of hygiene—making sure dirt, sweat and dead skin don’t linger too long on your epidermis is an essential part of good health. So essential, in fact, that if you don’t regularly scrub them from your skin, it will look far from clear and glowing…

The Trouble with Dirt: Dirt that’s been hanging out on your skin for longer than two or three days will work its way into your pores, making you feel 17 again. But not in that “I’m young again!” kind of way. Instead, it’s in that “I’m having a major acne breakout!” kind of way.
Worst-Case Scenario: Going two months or longer without scrubbing the dirt off your skin will result in a nasty condition called dermatitis neglecta, a.k.a. hyper-pigmented, and oftentimes crusty, blotches of skin.
Do NOT Google Image Search: “Dermatitis neglecta.”
Also, Do NOT Worry: When was the last time you went two months without bathing?

The Trouble with Sweat: At first, there’s none at all. “Sweat purges the body of toxins that can clog pores and plague the skin with pimples and blemishes,” Dr. Adebola Dele-Michael, a dermatologist at Radiant Skin Dermatology and Laser in New York City, has written. Which means when you sweat, it removes all that pore-clogging dirt we mentioned earlier.
But It’s Not Always A Good Thing: Especially when it lingers. Or you don’t wash it off after an extreme bout of perspiration—like after a trip to the sauna or a serious workout.
Worst-Case Scenario: If you go without quickly washing it off, the sweat will settle back into your pores along with whatever zit, rash and milia-causing toxins it carried with it in the first place.
What Is Milia Anyway?: Very small pimples that are way worse than pit stains.

The Trouble with Dead Skin: We shed nearly 30,000 dead skin flakes every minute (which is totally gross in and of itself), so if you don’t wash and exfoliate twice a week, it will build up, dry out your skin and dull your complexion. Be careful, though; over exfoliating can seriously irritate your epidermis.
Worst-Case Scenario: When aged dead skin (which is typically older than three days) combines with dirt and sweat, it creates a tasty snack for bacteria.
That Doesn’t Sound So Bad: Maybe. But it definitely smells. When bacteria digest this tasty (to them at least) dirt and sweat cocktail, they’ll emit a rank odor that will make you smell like a zoo animal.

So if you ever need a little motivation to jump in the shower on a lazy weekend, just remember: a shower every few days keeps the dermatitis neglecta, disgusting breakouts and foul-smelling odors away.