Depending on my schedule and how sweaty I get after my daily workout, sometimes I'll shower twice a day. Excessive? Maybe, but no one wants to be known as the "smelly kid" in the office, you know? Which is why it seems Americans, on average, tend to shower about once a day. But, even that number seems a bit excessive, says New York City-based dermatologist Joshua Zeichner. According to Zeichner, lathering up too often, as in, twice or more a day, can disrupt the skin barrier, which could lead to irritation and inflammation.
Sounds about right. But what would happen if, say, someone didn't shower? Like, for an entire year? Well, potentially a lot of really unfortunate (and totally avoidable) side effects. Here, experts weigh in on what could hypothetically happen to your skin if you forgo shower time for a full 365 days.
You'd have to become immune to body odor.
"Provided you aren't overly sweating or getting overly dirty and still washing key body areas, not showering likely won't harm the skin, although, you may develop a body odor you may not like," says Zeichner.
Dead skin will build up.
Skipping your shower could lead to an excess of dead skin cell buildup, says Amy Wechsler, a New York City dermatologist. Hyperkeratosis, which is the thickening of the outer layer of the skin, would undoubtedly occur.
Rashes and itchy irritation will occur.
"This is a tricky one to answer because different skin types will react differently to no cleansing for a year," Amy Tanzi, founder and director of Capital Laser & Skin Care and associate clinical professor, department of dermatology at the George Washington University Medical Center. "But in general, when the skin is not cleansed or exfoliated, it can get itchy from a lack of exfoliation, and a pink greasy scaly rash can form on certain parts of the face, scalp, and chest."
Fungus will start to grow in unexpected places.
"Aside from the body odor, there would be an overgrowth of yeast, and likely bacteria and fungus in the groin, underarms, buttocks, feet," says Wechsler. Umm, yuck.
You'd become more prone to infection.
As Zeichner explains, if you're exposed to dirt and develop a cut or scratch on the skin, you'd need to clean that area off. If left alone, you'd become more prone to infection.
Bottom line, all sorts of weird and almost-frightening side effects will occur if you (or someone you know) opts out of cleansing for a full calendar year. While we certainly don't recommend avoiding the bath (FYI, there are products that get you clean without the full shower effect, like Mother Dirt's bacteria-based products), if that's what makes you happy, then so be it. But just be warned — you'll eventually start to stink.