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There is a science to the soothing effect of showering. For example, evidence suggests having a hot shower can spike your oxytocin levels, which helps to wind down the fight-flight response that’s behind daily stress. Studies also show that water submersion gives the immune system a boost, helping to alleviate cold symptoms.
Despite the palpable health benefits, you can shower too much, warned doctor Manuraj Singh of MyHealthcare Clinic.
If you’re having breakouts of dry, flaky skin, the dermatologist said you could be showering too much.
Doctor Singh of MyHealthcare Clinic said washing day and night could actually be doing your skin more harm than good.
He explained: “Every time you wash your skin you are taking part of the epidermal barrier away.”
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The epidermal barrier acts as the first line of defence for your skin – the largest organ in the human body – and filters out harmful chemicals in the environment as well as helping to limit water loss.
“Showering once a day is enough for most people. Two showers is over the top, I think,” warned doctor Singh.
He added: “Obviously if you get dirty or become particularly sweaty you should wash this off, but in general I advise sticking to once a day for most adults.”
Showering too much in the winter can prove to be a perfect storm.
During winter the skin can become more irritated thanks to a combination of factors including central heating, chilly temperatures and the skin getting less exposure to UV rays, warned doctor Singh.
He continued: “Central heating takes moisture away from the skin so during the colder months people can definitely find their skin drying out more.
“People with pre-existing dry skin and inflammatory conditions such as psoriasis and eczema may also find they get worse during the winter.
“We also tend to go outside less during colder months so we don’t get as many UV rays, which are naturally anti-inflammatory.”
Doctor Singh added: “Obviously we don’t want too many UV rays because they damage your DNA over a period of time which can lead to premature ageing and skin cancer, but sensible exposure to sunshine while wearing appropriate clothing and sun cream is okay.”
According to the dermatologist, certain fabrics found in jumpers and scarves could also be a problem.
He said: “Woolly jumpers can certainly irritate the skin so good quality cotton is always better. Wool can induce hives and cause itchy bumps, called contact urticaria.
“Idiopathic urticaria is the most common, where there is no obvious cause, but if you find you’ve got itchy bumps you could think about trying different clothing.”
Doctor Singh continued: “If you’ve got itchy skin and it’s not clothing it may need investigating.
“Generalised itching without skin signs should also be investigated as it could be a sign of an internal problem.”
Another common complaint during low temperatures is chilblains which is when small, itchy red patches appear on the skin after you’ve been out in the cold.
According to doctor Singh, they are usually found on the fingers and toes but can also appear on the legs and face.
“These red skin lesions can be painful and itchy but usually clear up on their own. If they don’t go away they will need to be investigated.”
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