One day, while watching television, I heard Dr. Oz say, “Americans take too many baths or showers.” That statement piqued my interest, and I began to research the topic. While conducting my research, I found it difficult to find credible information on this topic. I was surprised by this, since we all regularly bathe and/or shower. I would have thought that there would be volumes of information on this subject, but there was very little to be found.
I discovered one article in Pediatrics magazine, written by Dr. T.E.C. Junior, which provided some information about the evolution of bathing. In the article, he writes, “During the Victorian era, children, if bathed at all, usually found Saturday evening the day chosen by their parents.”
I began to reflect on the days in my youth when my family would visit my great grandmother in rural Florida during summer vacations in the 1950s and 1960s. There was no indoor plumbing. There were no bath tubs, faucets, or toilets. This meant when we had to go to the bathroom, we went to the outhouse outdoors behind the house. When we needed running water, we went to the pump outside and filled a bucket with well water to be used indoors. We rarely washed our hands. We washed our clothes with a washboard once a week. We didn’t have the modern amenities families have today. We only bathed on Saturdays, and all the children bathed in the same galvanized washtub. Everyone bathed only once a week.
Nowadays, most families own a washer and dryer. The majority of families living in the United States have not one bathroom but two bathrooms in their home. This means that most people take showers or baths every single day, and sometimes the bathing water is too hot.
Humans have sebaceous glands whose purpose is to secrete natural oils into the skin and hair. This is the natural design of the human body to keep the skin and hair lubricated and moisturized. Because Americans bathe too often, the sebaceous glands function improperly. Therefore, the skin and hair are always dry. Then, we end up spending a lot of money to restore the oils by purchasing shampoos, conditioners, lotions, and potions to replace what we have voluntarily washed away.
Normally, we should bathe two to three times per week. However, there are numerous factors that determine how often we should bathe. Our jobs are the first determining factor. If we work outside and labor from morning to night, we should bathe more often. If we exercise or work out frequently, we should bathe regularly. People generally assume that bathing during the spring and/or summertime should be more regular than in the fall and winter. As teenagers go through puberty, they should bathe more often since hormones are more active during this time. And some people have over-active sweat glands, which means they may need to bathe more often as well.
I would recommend that when we do not shower, we should take a bird bath or sponge bath. My interpretation of these cliches would mean, as my mom would tell me, making the sign of the cross when you bathe. Interpreted: wash the face, hands, each arm pit, and between the legs with soap and water.
We should not be prejudiced by ads and commercials influencing us to make expensive purchases for products, which the body produces naturally. Most people believe that the purpose of bathing is to refresh ourselves, clean our bodies, and make ourselves presentable to others. This may be true, but we need to personalize our bathing behavior to fit our individual experiences and needs.
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