Bathing during winters: Right water temperature, correct frequency, other essential facts and tips you must know
This study also suggests that both showering and immersion bathing can improve mental and physical health status
Bathing is an essential ritual and, no matter what the season, bathing every day is recommended for hygiene and, in some cultures, even religious purposes. But is bathing every day necessary for your health, especially during the winter season when the air is dry, you don’t sweat as much and bathing becomes a long-winding chore? And if it is, how should you be bathing to optimize your health during winters? Here’s what you should know.
Is bathing daily even necessary?
You’ll be surprised to know that just like food cultures, bathing rituals differ all over the world. A report published by the Harvard Medical School suggests that while people bathe every day in countries like the US and Australia, the rate drops to once or twice a week in China. This report even suggests that while bathing to manage body odour and help you wake up in the morning is good, overbathing has negative effects, especially for the skin.
Overbathing can dry your skin and cause it to crack, which in turn can make you vulnerable to more bacterial infections. The skin also has its own microbiota and overbathing can cause an imbalance in its pH levels. What’s more, this report suggests that frequent bathing can also affect your immune response and memory, and this can negatively affect your ability to fight off infections.
Going by the findings of this report, bathing every day is not necessary. However, it’s important to remember that climate plays an important role in bathing practices and since India has ancient bathing rituals that recommend bathing daily, it is perhaps more suited to the Indian immune memory and the change of seasons in the subcontinent. The winter season in India is not as harsh as it is in North America or Europe even though cold waves hit parts of North India every year. Air pollution levels also tend to go up during winters, which suggests maintaining good hygiene indoors, including bathing properly every day, might be more beneficial in the Indian scenario.
Benefits of bathing
Recent studies indicate proper bathing practices have many health benefits apart from helping maintain good hygiene. A study published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2018 suggests that individuals who bathe in hot water every day have a good subjective health status, get sufficient rest and sleep, have lower levels of stress and higher levels of subjective happiness.
This study also suggests that both showering and immersion bathing can improve mental and physical health status. Bathing in hot water produces a hyperthermic effect on the body, which this study says is good for your cardiovascular health and may even improve your immune function.
Moreover, it also helps manage inflammation and pain, which can be pretty useful during winters. Another study in the Journal of Clinical Medicine Research (2018) suggests that body weight, body mass index and abdominal circumference were significantly lower in participants who bathed or showered daily, especially among type 2 diabetes patients and women.
Key bathing tips you must follow during winters
An older study in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology and Applied Human Sciences (2000) also suggests that daily bathing and getting a hot foot bath can also improve sleep quality during winters. Hot-water bathing before going to sleep also provides warmth and helps you fall asleep faster. So, bathing in hot water every day during winters is more likely to be good for your health than bad. However, bathing the right way is very important, so you might want to keep the following in mind:
- Make sure your bathwater isn’t scalding hot as this can dry off the moisture from your skin, leading to rashes, cracked skin and skin infections. Your bathwater should be lukewarm or slightly warm but not boiling hot.
- Don’t scrub your skin harshly with a loofah while bathing and don’t dry yourself roughly with a towel when you’re done. This can hurt your skin and dry it further, so take your time and be gentle.
- Don’t over-bathe. Bathing for five to 10 minutes is sufficient.
- It’s especially important to moisturize your skin as soon as you dry off during winters. Apply glycerine if it suits your skin, but also add a good layer of moisturizer all over your body. You can use olive oil, coconut oil and other essential oils on your skin to maintain moisture levels in winter.
- If you’re washing your head and hair, make sure the water is only slightly warm. Oiling your hair before shampooing during winters is a good idea.
- Make sure your loofahs, towels, showerheads, taps and bathroom drains are properly and regularly cleaned. Doing this can help you avoid the risk of any skin infections.
For more information, read our article on Is it better to bathe in hot water or cold water?
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.
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