Dermatology, Skin, Skin Care, Skin Health, İnfections, Eczema, Psoriasis

Dermatology, Skin

Wait, Are Baths Kind of...Gross?

And is a quick post-bath shower actually a good idea?

6/14/2021 7:00:00 PM

And is a quick post-bath shower actually a good idea?

And is a quick post-bath shower actually a good idea?

While your ownsweatand microorganisms aren't likely to cause any problems, you can run into trouble if there are other microbes growing in the tub, Dr. Tierno says. This growth can lead to a pesky little phenomenon known as biofilm: a buildup of microorganisms, including various types of bacteria, that essentially stick together to form a film. You know that pink ring around the tub or drain? That’s biofilm.

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“Any exposure to water usually results in some form of biofilm formation,” Dr. Tierno says. If you’re in a tub with biofilm, there’s a chance you can pick up some foreign bacteria, fungi, or other microorganism—whether it's just growing on its own, or whether you share a bathtub with someone and it's something they left behind. And that has the potential to cause everything from skin irritation to illness (depending on the microbe in question and if it just stays on your skin or enters your body in some way). Some microbes are harmless; others, like staphylococcus, can cause a gnarly infection.

The bacteria in biofilm can cause some pretty nasty, hard-to-treat breakouts, Dr. Soleymani says. But know that there also has to beenoughof a bug for it to cause an issue. Different microbes require different amounts of microbes to cause infection, Dr. Tierno says. There are many different things that factor into whether or not a microorganism is totally benign or causes a problem for you.

The best way to reduce your risk of picking up something from the tub is tokeep it clean. Dr. Tierno says the only way to remove biofilm is by physically scrubbing it off with a stiff-bristled brush to break up the gunk, so you’ll want to do that in addition to using a commercial cleaner with disinfectant (look for one that explicitly says “disinfectant” on the label) that can effectively kill microbes like bacteria and viruses. (A

diluted bleach solutiondoes the trick too.) Dr. Tierno notes that the best frequency depends on how many people use the tub and how often, but generally, if it gets some heavy use, a weekly clean is a good idea. If the bathtub use is infrequent for baths specifically, you can space out cleaning anywhere from every two weeks to every month, he says.

If you only use the shower the majority of the time, you still need to make sure the floor is clean to avoid buildup of microbes—the most likely one is the fungus that causes athlete’s foot. The same cleaning strategy as the tub is a good rule of thumb, just focus on the area on which you stand if you never actually use the whole tub.

A quick post-bath rinse can be a good idea.Here’s the deal: If you want to take a bath, that’s obviously fine from an overall health standpoint (and hopefully a great, soothing experience for you). But it’s not a bad idea to give your skin a quick rinse after to make sure you get off all the soap (and any residual dirt, salt, or oil it’s clinging to). This is an even more important step if you have

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sensitive skinor any dermatological conditions like eczema, Dr. Soleymani says. You don’t need to take a full-on shower—you can use a cup to get some fresh water from the spigot and pour it over your skin as the final step before you get out and dry off.

But if you’ve been enjoying baths for years, have never had any skin issues from it, and would really rather not change your process? Keep doing you. Plenty of people never rinse off after a bath and they’re just fine, Dr. Tierno says. There are plenty of other things to worry about—so let yourself enjoy that relaxing soak.

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