How Often Should You Shower?

Woman showering.

Choreograph / iStockphoto

In This Article

How often you shower is as individual a decision as the brand of soap or shampoo you choose.

Everyone's dermis is different, and a showering schedule should depend on your own situation, skin type, activity level, even the season. In winter, for example, excessive showering can dry out the skin and cause itching and flakiness. That's the time to cut back on bathing. But in hot weather, an extra shower or two may be necessary to wash off sweat and ward off body odor. And, let's face it, on a hot day in August, there's nothing better than jumping into the shower after a long day at work.

But generally speaking, dermatologists recommend no more than one shower a day, notwithstanding extenuating circumstances. And while an estimated two-thirds of all Americans shower daily, as it turns out, for some people showering every other day or even twice a week may be the healthier way to go.

What's your clean? Here are some guidelines to help you figure out how often you should shower.

Showering Too Often

Despite the conventional wisdom many of us were raised with, showering too often can sometimes create more problems than it prevents. Frequent showering can:

  • Remove sebum, the fine layer of oil on your skin secreted by the sebaceous gland that protects and keeps it moisturized .
  • Lead to dry and flaky skin and worsen any skin conditions you may have such such as psoriasis or eczema.
  • Break down the 'acid mantle,' which is a very fine, slightly acidic film on the surface of human skin that acts—along with sebum—as a barrier to bacteria, and viruses, paving the way for skin infections and allergic reactions.
  • Prevent your skin from staving off "bad" bacteria—harmful bacteria that come from food, environmental toxins or other external factors.

The "hygiene hypothesis" posits that excessive cleanliness and antiseptically clean environments may actually stunt immature immune systems and contribute to an increase in allergies, asthma, autoimmune diseases such as Crohn's disease, and maybe even diabetes. Allowing children to be exposed to an array of bacteria while they're young may help build a stronger immune system in the long run.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends bathing babies younger than 1 three times a week or less. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) suggests that children ages 6–11 have a bath once or twice a week unless they are especially dirty.

Even older adults may not need a shower every day to maintain the level of cleanliness necessary to protect their skin, ward off infection, and adhere to acceptable standards of good grooming. Taking a shower once or twice a week can often be sufficient to meet these criteria; washing one's groin area and armpits with a warm washcloth in between showers can help you stay fresh and clean.

Who Should Shower Daily?

That said, there are those among us for whom a daily shower is a necessity. Shower every day if you:

  • Live in an especially hot or humid area
  • Do "dirty work" at a job that involves physical exertion or exposure to various materials
  • Are prone to body odor
  • Exercise every day

Let's face it, people who have desk jobs and spend their days indoors don't have the same bathing needs as those who work in less hygenic environments and jobs, such as:

  • Construction workers
  • Butchers
  • Janitors
  • Exterminators
  • Miners
  • Garbage collector
  • Farmers

If you work with dangerous chemicals and corrosive or radioactive materials, a shower is probably required at the end of each shift. Working outdoors and around plants—as a farmer or gardener—also mandates showering as soon as you come indoors to reduce the risk of rashes and other skin injuries. Even if you're an avid home gardener who likes to spend your days puttering in the garden, shower when you're finished to limit your exposure to pollens and other potential allergens.

Not Showering Enough

Again, how often to shower varies among individuals and showering too little can be as potentially harmful as hitting the shower three times a day.

Inadequate bathing can trigger acne breakouts, especially if you are prone to them. Sitting in sweaty clothes for long periods of time without showering can irritate the skin and increase the risk of developing a bacterial or fungal infection such as jock itch.

Going too long without a shower is also likely going to produce body odor, which is considered de rigueur in our culture, as well as cause a build-up of dead cells and sweat on your skin even if you don't workout every day.

At its most serious, months without bathing can lead to dermatitis neglecta,(DN), a dermatological condition in which brown patches of dead cells, dirt, sweat, and grime form on your skin. Also known as "unwashed dermatosis," this condition tends to occur among people who have a physical disability or have had injuries and are unable to adequately clean an area of their bodies.

Sometimes it develops near a surgical incision that is highly sensitive—physically and psychologically—leading a person to avoid washing that spot. Sadly, DN is unsurprisingly prevalent among older people due to a lack of self-care or the absence of someone to care for them.

The good news is that although dermatitis neglecta is unattractive, washing regularly can restore the normal skin.

Tips For Showering

Whether you ultimately opt for daily, every other day or twice weekly showers, here are some tips to help maintain healthy skin:

  • Use warm water. Hot water can strip the skin of natural oils.
  • Keep showers short. Standing under the showerhead may be relaxing, but five to 10 minutes in the shower is enough, says dermatologists.
  • Use a non-drying soap or body cleanser. If your soap leaves your skin feeling tight, dry, or itchy, switch to a moisturizing soap—a bar or liquid body cleanser will do—to leave your skin feeling good after you towel off.
  • Don't scrub too hard. If you're using a body scrub product or loofah, gently massage it over your skin. There's no need to scrub to the point of redness as this will irritate your skin. Use your hands or a soft washcloth.
  • Use soap only on select areas of the body. If you shower daily, use soap only on parts of your body that are prone to body odor—your hands, face, armpits, groin, and buttocks. The rest of your body only needs a rinse with plain water.
  • Apply moisturizer immediately after showering. Slather on a good moisturizing lotion over your entire body to help keep your skin hydrated and supple. Fragrance-free products are best for extra sensitive skin types.
  • Keep poufs and loofahs clean. Damp sponges, loofahs, and shower poufs are breeding grounds for mold. Replace them at least every other month, and get into the habit of storing them outside the damp environment of the shower so they can dry out.
Was this page helpful?

Article Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Larson, Elaine. "Hygiene of the skin: When is clean too clean?" Centers for Disease Control. Dec. 8, 2001.

Additional Reading

  • How Often Do Children Need to Bathe. American Academy of Dermatology. 2017.

  • Pastor DK, Harper DS. Treating Body Odor in Primary Care. ​The Nurse Practitioner. 2012;37(3):15-8.