Are you bathing too frequently?
When I worked at my late uncle’s junkyard during junior high school, one of the regular customers (a crusty coot who resembled a cantankerous Roy Rogers sidekick wannabe) assured us that he luxuriated in a steaming bathtub each and every night.
We were skeptical, but it still burned in my brain an image of grimy tumbling tumbleweeds popping through the suds. Brrrrr.
Anyhow, for the past several decades I’ve taken the uprightness of a daily shower for granted.
But a recent social media kerfuffle over celebrity couples with lax personal hygiene standards for themselves and their children started me researching the topic of showering and bathing frequency.
Times change. When I was working up a sweat at the junkyard, “Dueling Banjos” was on the AM radio. Now the internet is full of dueling dermatologists.
Some dermatologists tell us that the polite-society-approved daily cleanup is the safest bet. Others warn that it can be wasteful or even harmful to bathe more than three or four times a week (with exceptions for sponge baths for armpits, feet and private parts).
Emboldened by the second group of skin doctors, myriad rebels are only too happy to rain on the parade of people who actually enjoy the physical and emotional aspects of the bathing ritual. (“I demand a retraction! We don’t rain on anyone. They might feel compelled to rub themselves dry with a towel! Oh, the humanity!”)
The passion of these zealots catches me off-guard. With all the geese and swans to worry about, who would have imagined that Rubber Duckie would be atop 2021’s endangered waterfowl list? Who imagined that singing in the shower would be reduced to “Well, I’m a-runnin’ down the road/ Tryin’ to loosen my…To be continued”?
Proponents of infrequent bathing have mastered both positive and negative reinforcement to achieve their goals. My Google research for this column uncovered websites that promised my skin would be “vibrant and radiant” if I just cut back on washing. I think that ship has already sailed – and brushed its starboard hull against both cheeks, if my mirror is any indication.
Some websites warned me that too-frequent bathing could disrupt my skin’s microbiome. Seriously, if a little soap and water causes my good bacteria that much anguish, I’m not too confident about how they would handle a cage match with my BAD bacteria. Maybe the good bacteria should just quit while they’re ahead and accept a “participation” ribbon.
Several experts touted cutting back on the amount of water used as a means of saving the planet I can just picture Jack Bauer of “24” racing against the clock to thwart such water-wasting villains. (“He showered for five minutes and one second! Nooooooooo!”)
Millions of people are on edge after being browbeaten for the unintended consequences of their daily baths/showers. They keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. (“No, don’t drop the other shoe yet. That little piggie isn’t due for a bath until the day after tomorrow!”)
Seriously, what other intricate systems are we messing up? If you trim your nose hair, will it blow out your Achilles tendon? Inquiring minds want to know.
Do what’s best for you. Consider your skin type, the season and your level of exertion. Get a professional opinion. Get a second opinion.
“I’ll even give you a third opinion. Your B.O. killed my canary. I hated that canary. You’re welcome.”
Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at firstname.lastname@example.org and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”