Did you know that our bodies carry around 1,000 different types of bacteria? And 40 types of fungi! Our bodies are covered head to toe in microscopic things that are just waiting for us to skip a shower or two in order to make us stink to high heaven. But don’t be put off – most of these are harmless and in fact work to make your skin healthy and help your body adjust to the various environments you subject it to.
Sweat does not smell, it’s odourless! But body odour – or more accurately ‘bromhidrosis’ – absolutely stinks. This happens when bacteria gather, grow and fester while feeding on the proteins and fatty acids produced within sweat. The consequence of that feeding is a cocktail of foul smelling chemicals. The smell itself is the accumulation of over 30 gases given off these bacteria.
Bacteria: the good, the bad and the ugly
Don’t shower too often or for too long. Your body is packed full of helpful natural chemicals that help your skin stay healthy. You don’t want to be washing all the good oils away otherwise your skin will lose its shine and become fragile and susceptible to the bad bacteria. Conversely, if you don’t shower, you risk having the bad bacteria forming a layer over the good guys, and further damaging your skin.
‘Dermatosis neglecta’ sounds as nasty as it is. It’s a skin condition that affects areas suffering from poor hygiene and basic negligence. Simply look up images online and that should put you off neglecting a regular shower straight away!
Have you ever forgotten about a used gym kit in a bag, only to open it weeks later and actually consider burning the whole thing? Well the smell lingers on your body as well after a workout, and can damage your skin and health if left unwashed.
Speaking to Women’s Health, Dr Holly Phillips said: ‘Keeping moist, salty sweat soaked clothing close to your skin for long periods after working out leads to irritation and the increased risk of small abrasions or skin breakdown. This can raise your risk of bacterial and fungal infections, like staph bacteria or the fungus that causes jock itch.’
Babies have, surprise surprise, very fragile skin. This means their bathroom ritual will be different to adults. Rather than bathing a baby every day, do it 3 or 4 times a week to ensure your baby’s skin is able to retain all the good natural oils that build skin up into a decent defence against the big bad world. Washing too often will typically lead to dry skin and a decrease in natural bacteria, which could lead to eczema and other nasties attacking your baby’s skin. Ask your GP to be sure, but when it comes to baby, don’t think your risks are the same.
When it comes to regular showers, you’ll enjoy having cleaner skin, and people around you will enjoy your lack of smell as well as the view of the sun bouncing off your beautifully clean body.