You finish a hard workout, head to the locker room wearing a glistening sheen of perspiration all over and … skip your usual de-funkifying shower?
Sure, if you follow a bit of advice that comes up every so often and invariably is greeted with shocked aversion: Avoid daily showering with soap, which, the notion goes, removes good bacteria from our skin along with the bad.
The most recent resurfacing of the advice comes from Dr. Robynne Chutkan, founder of the Digestive Center for Women in Chevy Chase, Md., who explains to Health.com that soaping up every day eventually can affect the body’s immune system. Opt insead, she says, for a good rinse and reserve a mild, organic soap for an occasional wash of the armpits and groin.
Good idea in theory. How about sweaty daily life?
“I have heard of these kind of studies before,” says Louis Kavouras, chairman of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, dance department, but “most of the dancers in our department, we all use soap in the shower.”
He laughs. “And we prefer it when we all do that.
“In fact, most of the dancers, in the bags they carry to rehearsal, there’s deodorant and also some kind of body spray,” Kavouras says. “And sometimes soap. That’s a standard thing.”
Danny Young, associate professor in UNLV’s physical therapy department, rides his bicycle to work each day, making a daily 30-mile round-trip between UNLV and his home in the Southwest. He has heard arguments on the no-soap-daily theme before but never has given it a shot.
Why?” Because I really like the way soap smells, and so does my wife, and I really like my relationship with her,” he says, laughing. “And if I wasn’t using the soap that she bought me, I’d quickly lose that relationship.”
Young doesn’t shower when he arrives on campus each day — a change of clothing and a face-rinse usually does the trick — “but I certainly shower (with soap) when I get home,’ he says.
Young has read about the health risks, “which I think are inflated,” and the environmental risks, “which may be real,” but says he’s not heard any credible arguments that there’s any cause for serious concern.
So, Young says, “there’s no compelling reason to give up soap, in my mind.”
And, he says, “I don’t see it catching any momentum.”
Contact reporter John Przybys at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0280 or follow @JJPrzybys on Twitter.