How Often Should You Shower?

For many people, showering is an everyday event, as much a ritual as brushing your teeth or taking daily medications. Others contend that daily showering isn't necessary and that it is perfectly okay to do so a few times a week. Or, even once a week.

The decision is based a lot on personal preference but also your lifestyle. If you're physically active, daily showering may be needed. But, if you over-shower—say, two or three times a day—it can disrupt the barrier function of the skin, stripping away oils and healthy bacteria. This can lead to dry, cracked skin and an increased risk of skin infections.

On the flip side, not showering or bathing enough can lead to equally serious harm.

This article discusses how often should you shower compared to how often most people in the United States shower or bathe. It also looks at what happens if you don't shower enough and how to protect the barrier function of your skin by showering wisely.

Woman showering.
Choreograph / iStock

How Often Adults Should Shower

People in the United States shower a lot. By way of example, a 2013 study in Environmental Health reported that 76% of females in the U.S. shower at least once daily, and 28% take a bath at least once daily.

While showering daily is not necessarily "unhealthy," it also may not be necessary. For most people, a full-body shower every other day or every third day is likely enough.

Healthy skin has a natural layer of oil and bacteria that help keep it from drying out. Excessive exposure to soap and water, especially hot water, can strip away this protective layer, which can cause the skin to become dry, flaky, and itchy. This can be particularly problematic for people with skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema.

On days when you don't shower, you can use a clean washcloth to wipe yourself down. It's also a good idea to wash your face every night to remove dirt, makeup, and sunscreen, which can all clog pores.

It's important to wash your hands. Wash more frequently when you're sick or are around others who are sick to help prevent the spread of infection.

Who Needs to Shower Every Day

Shower daily if you get dirty, sweaty, or are exposed to allergens or dangerous chemicals at work or in your activities. Examples of those who may consider showering every day include:

  • Farm workers
  • Animal rescue volunteers and staff
  • Landscapers
  • People who garden
  • Construction workers
  • Funeral directors
  • Athletes
  • Fitness instructors
  • People who do intense workouts

Avoid showering twice a day unless it is really necessary.

Bathing needs can change throughout the year. If you live in a region that is very hot in the summer and cold in the winter, a daily shower may be necessary only during the summer months.

How Long Can You Go Without Showering?

How long you can go between showers depends on your day-to-day activities, how dirty or sweaty you get, and what types of allergens or chemicals you may be exposed to.

Going too long without bathing can lead to body odor. Dead skin cells, sweat, and oil also tend to build up, which can clog pores. This may trigger acne breakouts in people who are prone to them.

After exercising or working up a sweat, be sure to shower and change as soon as possible. Wearing sweaty, moist clothes for long periods can increase the risk of bacterial or fungal infections, such as jock itch.

What Happens If You Go Months Without Showering?

Going months without bathing can lead to dermatitis neglecta (DN), a condition where brown patches of dead cells, dirt, sweat, and grime form on the skin. This condition tends to impact people who are unable to adequately clean their bodies.

It can also develop after surgery if a patient is afraid to clean the area around the incision or finds it painful to do so.

Whatever the cause, DN is easily treated simply by washing the affected skin regularly.

Healthy Showering Tips

No matter how often you shower, there are things you can do to keep your skin as healthy as possible.

  • Use warm water. Hot water can strip the skin of protective oils, like sebum.
  • Keep it short. Five to 10 minutes is ideal.
  • Use a non-drying soap. Whether you prefer a bar or liquid body cleanser, choose one labeled as moisturizing.
  • Use soap only on select areas of the body. Limit lather to spots prone to odor—armpits, groin, buttocks, and feet.
  • Be gentle. If you use a body scrub or loofah, don't scrub too hard. When using a towel, pat your skin dry instead of rubbing.
  • Moisturize after showering. If your skin tends to be dry or sensitive, slather your body with a fragrance-free moisturizing cream, body lotion, or oil while your skin is still damp.
  • Keep poufs and loofahs clean. Damp sponges, loofahs, and shower poufs are breeding grounds for bacteria and mildew. Let them air dry outside of the shower and replace or sanitize them in a dishwasher at least every other month.

Summary

Each person's bathing needs will differ depending on a variety of factors including the weather, their job environment, and hobbies. In general, showering every other day or every few days is typically sufficient.

Keep in mind that showering twice a day or frequently taking hot or long showers can strip your skin of important oils. This can lead to dry, itchy skin. Skipping showers for long periods of time can also cause issues including infections, acne, and dermatitis neglecta.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How often should I shower if I have eczema?

    Ideally, shower once a day for five to 10 minutes. This will add moisture to your skin. To lock it in, pat skin gently with a towel, apply medication to affected areas of skin, and apply moisturizer to your entire body within the first few minutes of exiting the shower.

  • How often should I change my bath towel?

    At least once a week. More importantly, allow towels to dry completely between uses, as dampness can breed bacteria. Spread towels out to dry on a towel bar rather than hanging them on a hook to speed up the process.

  • How often should my teenager shower?

    If they've hit puberty, a daily shower is ideal. Kids this age should especially shower after swimming, playing sports, or sweating a lot. They also should wash their face because excess oil and dirt can contribute to acne.

9 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Agopian AJ, Waller K, Lupo PJ, Canfield MA, Mitchell LE. A case–control study of maternal bathing habits and risk for birth defects in offspring. Environ Health. 2013;12:88. doi:10.1186/1476-069X-12-88

  2. National Eczema Association. Eczema and bathing.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Handwashing: clean hands save lives.

  4. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Acne: who gets and causes.

  5. MedlinePlus. Jock itch.

  6. Saha A, Seth J, Sharma A, Biswas D. Dermatitis neglecta -- a dirty dermatosis: report of three cases. Indian J Dermatol. 2015;60(2):185-187. doi:10.4103/0019-5154.152525

  7. National Eczema Association. Eczema and bathing.

  8. Cleveland Clinic. How often should you wash your (germ magnet of a) bath towel?

  9. American Academy of Dermatology. Bathing: how often do children need to take a bath?

By Angela Palmer
Angela Palmer is a licensed esthetician specializing in acne treatment.