According to Dr Shyamalar Gunatheesan
By Nicholas Fonseca • 23 August
“As a society, we’ve engaged in a routine/behavioural pattern of over-bathing. Hot, long showers dry out skin, impair its barrier function and aren’t environmentally friendly,” Dr Shyamalar Gunatheesan, founding dermatologist at Melbourne’s ODE Dermatologytells Body + Soul.
Indeed, Body+Soul beauty editor Kelsey Ferencak says that while most dermatologists do recommend simply washing our “bits and pits” with a quick rinse of water each day, “Personally, I shower daily at night – to ‘wash the day away’.
There’s nothing better than getting into bed fresh and clean.”
It’s true. “The skin ‘cleans’ itself as the epidermis, the top of the skin, sheds and turns over, replenishing itself with new skin cells or keratinocytes every 28 days,” says Gunatheesan.
“Our skin’s microbiome – a delicate balance of trillions of bacteria and viruses – and the acid mantle (a thin layer of lipids from oil glands and amino acids from sweat) communicate with our immune system to repel pathogens or invading organisms.”
As paediatrician Howard Chilton, author of parenting manual Baby On Board, tells Body+Soul, “Active children can get extraordinarily dirty in a short time outside.”
He points to the dermatological advice to bathe kids “two to three times weekly for optimal skin care”, adding that bathtime is also a calming ritual that helps prepare children for sleep.
Gunatheesan agrees: “Unless covered in dirt and mud, children don’t need showers or baths daily – their apocrine sweat glands in their armpits haven’t been activated yet.”
Gunatheesan says cleaning our armpits, groin, bum and feet with water and a soap-free wash daily “will maintain our skin’s acidic pH and not over-strip our natural oils.
If we don’t have grime or dirt on us, or haven’t been to the gym, the routine of alternate-day quick, tepid showers can suffice.”
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