Handwashing is all the rage these days. In fact, there might not have been such a strong emphasis on hand hygiene among the general public in your lifetime. But hands aside, is all that washing good for you?
Maybe not, suggest some doctors, dermatologists, and microbiologists. Washing less—other than your hands—might be a way to boost your immune system, fight allergies, limit eczema, and boost overall health.
How? Bacteria. All the little microorganisms that crawl over your body’s largest organ just might be beneficial.
In recent years, an overwhelming amount of research has come out about the potential benefits of the human microbiome. Usually talked about in the context of gut health and internal benefits, your microbiome exists outside of your body too.
Some experts suggest that people have gone into overdrive with washing, using a host of products on their skin each day. This can lead to immune issues and skin reactions. They even suggest anti-bacterial or antimicrobial soaps may do more harm than good for most people.
These experts say that so much attention has been paid to diversifying and improving the population of microbes in us. We much turn our focus to the bacteria living on us.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wash—several factors determine your microbiome, including lifestyle, diet, genetics, and antibiotic use. But it might make you rethink how you practice hygiene.
One thing to do is to avoid antimicrobial and anti-bacterial soaps. Instead, opt for natural soaps, or those with as few ingredients as possible. Many common soaps more closely resemble detergent than soap!
Another way to potentially improve your outer layer is by spending more time outside in nature. Exposing yourself to dirt and fresh air might help with allergies and eczema, so get out and do some gardening or go for a nice walk near grass, trees, dirt, etc.
Lastly, wash yourself a little less. You might not need a daily shower or deep clean to every part of your body each day. Aim for a couple of showers per week, use a limited amount of soap, and try to eat a bit healthier. You might notice that you don’t smell!
A Western diet is closely linked to allergies, body odor, psoriasis, and eczema, so eating better and being less reliant on soaps to smell good may help your health in more ways than one.
Remember to keep washing hands regularly to reduce the risk of COVID-19. But other than that, you might be able to boost your health without being so focused on the modern ideals of hygiene.