How Often People in Various Countries Shower

How Often People in Various Countries Shower

The average American showers nearly every day, which is, according to a Euro-monitor poll, the global average as well. Showering frequency is similar in Spain, France, and India, although in Mexico, the Middle East, and Australia, eight showers a week is the norm.

When you shower or bathe, make the water warm but not hot, and try not to linger. If you take long hot showers in the winter, your skin will likely pay the price and you will be exposed to more fluoride than drinking unfiltered tap water for several days along with loads of disinfection byproducts.

10 Replies

  • Interesting article, particularly as we begin to appreciate that bacteria are not all bad and our health is better if we don't try an eradicate them all. Good Queen Bess (Elizabeth I), it was said, took to a bath once a month "whether she need it or no."

    Just a note regarding the mention of the risk associated with trihalomethanes (THMs). This needs to be kept in perspective. As the article correctly states, these are indeed carcinogenic chlorination by products (they form from the interaction of chlorine and organic contamination). This is well recognised by water authorities such that levels are minimised. Unfortunately there's a trade-off between maintaining water safe for drinking and bathing and the levels of these by products, though there are other non-chlorine based water sterilisation processes used where THMs would reach concerning levels. Due to the high average temperatures where I live and the use of 100's of km long pipelines used to deliver water to remote, dry localities, it's a factor that is carefully monitored here. We've had very sad incidences of children dying very quickly from amoebic meningitis - generally from bathing/swimming in fresh water which has not been sufficiently treated.


  • There are indeed legitimate legal and philosphical questions about public health policy, and freedom to choose. But I seriously doubt that exposure to flouride on the skin is the same as drinking flouride, nor that either have been proven significantly harmful in typical city water supply levels, nor that untreated water can be demonstrated to be safer.

    Dr. Mercola is a controversial figure in the media and medical communities, because he doesn't just dispense advice, he markets unregulated products based on contrarian, and disputed theories.

    I am somewhat skeptical of some of medical science, greatly funded as it is by huge companies. But when someone tries to sell me something they way he does, I feel they are blatantly trying to take advantage of my fears and ignorance for their own gain. He knows his market is unregulated, and I would have no recourse unless I can prove damages. If he had something that really worked, results by independent investigators would show it, and his products would receive legitimate approval, as have previous alternative treatments, such as probiotics.

    As CLLers with compromised immune systems, our skin, oral, and gut biomes are likely to be somewhat different. I don't believe that the biome has been studied in our population. Any drastic change in sanitary habits could lead to even more of an imbalance. The science on this is all very young.

    Much of the beneficial evidence of increased biome diversity are generally based on biomes in 3rd world countries. The 3rd world focus is based on a romantic notion that we have to return to a supposedly natural way of living. and that civilization is making our lives worse. But in 3rd world countries, infant and child mortality due to bacterial infections distort the statistics for adults, because the weakest kids do not even survive. Even the adults that do survive have shorter lifespans than devloping and 1st world countries.

    I'm sure that civilization has indeed made some aspects of life worse, but good sanitation is the single biggest advancement a culture can make. We can refine it, I'm sure - customize the content and quantity of soaps and cleaning products based on biome testing, perhaps. Or provide better home testing and filtration of water content. That's all still a few years away.

    Because of my concern about bacterial balance and antibiotic use, I put my money down, and participated in the American Gut citizen science project early on, and have been following its reports ever since:

    I also attended the online class given by the University of Colorado:

    The course was not hard, and it's worth the time if it's offered again.


  • Excellent reply Seymour. I was also tempted to comment on the mention of fluoride in the shower water. I'm the eldest in my family and water fluoridation was introduced after I'd developed my adult teeth. My siblings had far less dental decay than me despite identical diets, a result that was reflected in population study comparisons of dental health before and after the supply of fluoridated water. Plus there are places in the world where the water is naturally fluoridated.

    Water sanitation has indeed saved more lives than arguably any other advance. I wrote about it in an early post:


  • Hi Shazie,

    Thanks for this link.

    Although I have the same reservations about Dr Mercola as SeymourB has expressed, he (Dr M) does make some good points sometimes. When he talks about daily soapy showers not being a good idea, I'm very much with him. I developed a nasty eczema on my chest, that lingered for months, till I stopped using soap on most of my body. Now I use just water, and have no more eczema. I did try going back to the soap again, but very soon I was getting the itchy patches that had appeared before the full blown eczema developed. So I gave up on the soap (except for hands etc).

    We used to have dogs, and it always surprised me how clean they kept (unless they got muddy or rolled in something obnoxious!). We never used soap on them, though we did hose them down with water sometimes. Yet their coats were clean and shiny, and didn't smell (most of the time). Of course in their natural state, animals never use soap to wash… so why should we? :-)

    Good sanitation in other ways, especially re the quality of drinking water, is a very different matter though... It was good to read Neil and Seymour's comments on that...


  • PaulaS

    I do sympathize and agree about soaps being over used. I have trouble with dry skin - even though I live in one of the humidity capitals of the US (New Orleans). I don't know that I would agree with the dog vs human analogy. Canine immune systems have evolved to fight things that ours has not. Vultures can eat carrion that dogs cannot, for the same evolutionary reason.

    Most soaps are alkaline, and will dry the skin - and alter the microbiome balance, for good or ill. The soaps that are good for your cleaning your hands of infectious bacteria and virii are not particularly good for most other parts of the body. The microbiome varies greatly all over the body:

    The microbiome is also surprisingly robust - within hours of washing, bacteria repopulate quickly. Microbes are also constantly mutating - competing with each other for the resources our body provides. Our immune system mutates along with it. The species of microbes in 3rd world countries today are far different from those of our distant ancestors thousands of years ago.

    More important than the possible negative effects of cholorine and flouride, water treatment in many cities adds calcium carbonate (lime) to coat metal pipes to prevent copper and, formerly, lead, from dissolving into the water - even though most modern pipe is now plastic. Soap reacts with the lime, and leaves the soap scum film on your skin.

    A water softener appliance can drastically reduce the lime, and let you use much less soap - and less lotion afterwards. People who bathe or shower with soft water often say that they don't feel clean - we're used to being "squeaky clean". Someday, water treatment specialists will decide to cut back gradually, I expect. It won't go away completely - lime also binds metals in natural ground and river water.

    For us CLLers, I think the big thing is proper hand and face washing - the 2 parts of our bodies most exposed and vulnerable to infection. Keeping surfaces around the house clean is important as well. Bleach for surfaces that can handle it, hydrogen peroxide for other surfaces, simple soap for the rest.

    I threaten to enforce Japanese shoe hygeine in our house. It would be interesting to see a microbiome study of Japanese home surfaces.

  • Where I live, we have very hard water i.e. a high calcium/magnesium concentration from our limestone rich soils, so we're a soap salesman's dream market. The use of water softeners which replace the calcium and magnesium ions with sodium is common. That lead to this earlier discussion on the contribution to sodium intake for those that have to watch their blood pressure:

  • SeymourB,

    Thanks for your interesting reply.

    You're right about dogs... specially re what they eat! As you say, vultures can eat carrion that would not suit dogs, and dogs can eat stuff that wouldn't be good for humans. (And healthy humans can eat stuff that would make neutropenic people very ill).

    I guess it was the more the cleanliness of hairy skin that I was thinking about. I used to look at the clean, shiny-coated dogs sitting at my feet, who never got washed with soap, and wonder why my hair needed washing with shampoo every few days.

    I certainly agree that soaps are over-used. As you say, we need soap for hand-washing, but it's not so good for most other parts of the body (especially for folk with dry skin who are prone to eczema!). I've found that showers in nice hot water but hardly any soap, are just as refreshing as using lots of shower gel. Need to wash the towels more often though :- )

    Japanese shoe hygiene - yes, go for it! Taking off shoes before entering a house isn't just done in Japan of course, it's the custom in lots of Asian countries, and it's increasing in the UK too. But I just looked up more about the Japanese approach to this, and now realise it's more complicated than just removing shoes at the door. Interesting...


    P.S. I wonder if any study has been done, that compares the rates of infectious illnesses amongst Japanese, with that of "non-shoe-removing" societies?

  • I think diet affects oily hair, too. Plus, diet affects odor. Maybe its possible to find a combination of diet and water softness that would minimize odor and the need for shampooing. Or maybe we need to change some esthetic values to allow for a little more oil and odor. Culture change is hard to engineer. You need hollywood stars to get on board first. ;^)

    You're right, many Asian countries have similar practices, but I've only been to Japan, so I wasn't sure how prevalent some things are. I think it's hard for elderly and infirm to do the shoe dance - they need someone to help.

    Plus, many Asians wear surgical masks, now for the fun of it, or to keep people away:

    Surgical masks aren't nearly as effective as people think - the Ebola scare proved that. After Hurricane Katrina, mold was a huge problem in New Orleans. I have a nice face mask with replaceable filters plus goggles, good enough now for high pollen days. But it never became a fashion accessory.


  • I wonder if people bathe anymore... all I smell is body spray and/or Febreze... :(

    Don't get me started on the Mask Myths...

  • The British didn't come out at all well in this recent poll, especially the fairer sex! One in three admitted to not washing their face or bodies for 3 days and a higher proportion than I would have imagined don't brush their teeth before bed.

    I'm afraid since contracting CLL, my body temperature is decidedly wonky and I absolutely feel the need for a daily shower and sometimes before bed too. I'll have to take the risks associated with that because I wouldn't want to contemplate the alternatives! :-)


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