Are we dirtier in quarantine?
Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis caused a stir by stating that they don't bathe or bathe their children too often. Daily showering, especially in the United States, seems to be ingrained in many people's psyches.
You may shower immediately after waking up as part of your morning routine, or you may like to cool off and bathe before going to bed.
The frequency of bathing depends on daily activities, according to Elaine Larson, a resident professor at the New York Academy of Medicine and emeritus professor of epidemiology at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health.
"I think people get stuck asking, 'How often should I bathe?'
or 'How often should I clean my hands?' but it has more to do with what you've done, "Larson said.
"I think the question is: 'When are the right times to bathe or wash your hands?'
and the answer is: when they become contaminated ".
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The emergence of modern hygiene practices is responsible for the reduction of many diseases, Larson said.
Now, however, most people in developed countries have clean water, soap and clean places.
This means that the main reason for bathing is no longer disease prevention, but aesthetics - to look and smell clean, he said.
For adults who stay indoors most of the time, such as those of us who work at home, Larson said daily showers are not needed.
You are in the same environment and you do not come into contact with unknown germs that need to be eliminated.
This is especially true for older adults, whose skin dries out with frequent washing, leaving them more susceptible to germs, said Larsen, who is also a research professor emeritus and special professor at the Columbia School of Nursing.
"In general, you don't have to wash every day, because you are actually reducing the skin's normal defense mechanisms against organisms and infections," Larson said.
"In fact, if you clean too often and your skin becomes dry, you are more likely to carry germs and such."
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This also extends to hand washing, which she says can dry out hands and make them more prone to carrying germs if done too often.
Although hand washing is essential, especially now with the covid-19 pandemic, washing is necessary especially when you experience some kind of contamination, such as coughing on your hands or changing a baby's diaper.
Also, given the pandemic, we see a lot of people using antibacterial hand sanitizers like Purell, and this may not be the best thing for the skin if you're not careful, said Dr. Arielle Nagler, associate professor of dermatology at the College. Grossman School of Medicine at New York University.
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"Those products can be really harsh on the skin and can disrupt the normal skin barrier," he said.
"It's okay to use them, but you have to combine them with hydration to keep your skin healthy."
Especially people who have dry skin or conditions like eczema should avoid long and excessive showers, Nagler said.
These people should take shorter, cooler showers, limit soap use to odor-prone areas, and hydrate immediately after showering.
If the person exercises a lot, he also suggests that they coordinate bathing with their exercise schedule to avoid excessive showering.
Bathing recommendations vary according to age, especially in the case of minors.
Babies should bathe with soap once or twice a week, according to Dr. Andrew Doyle, a pediatrician at Wellstar Health System in Marietta, Georgia.
This excludes the diaper area, of course, which must be cleaned whenever necessary.
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If they wish, parents can bathe their children daily with water, as newborn skin is sensitive and must retain its natural oils, he added.
As children get older, the frequency of baths should also match "how dirty they are," Doyle said.
Once they reach school age, around 5 or 6 years old, he referenced the recommendations of the American Academy of Dermatology, which says that children should bathe at least once or twice a week.
They should also bathe if they engage in activities in which they sweat or get dirty, or if they are going to swim in a pool, the sea, or another body of water.
However, once they hit puberty, they must shower or bathe every day, says Doyle.
Adolescents experience body changes during puberty, such as the production of more oil in the skin and the odor in the armpits.
Parents should "initiate those hygiene habits very early in life with their children and model and guide them so that they can ultimately take control of their health as they grow," he said.
To instill good bathing practices in children, she said parents should make bath time fun and something that children look forward to.
This can make it easier for children to internalize this habit as something they can control in the future.
Brushing and flossing your teeth
People sometimes don't realize how important oral health is to their overall health, says Dr. Matthew Messina, director of dental oncology and clinic director for the Ohio State University School of Dentistry, who He has been a general dentist for 35 years.
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"Somehow, people have the perception that what happens in the mouth stays in the mouth, kind of like the old Las Vegas ad, 'What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas', and we know that's not true, "said Messina, who is also a spokesperson for the American Dental Association.
"What happens in the mouth does not stay in the mouth either, there are interrelationships between the body, general health and oral health."
The mouth is not a sterile environment, he said, and we need to clean it to rid our teeth and gums of bacteria that can come from the food that sits in the mouth. If not cleaned regularly, bacteria can lead to cavities and irritate the gums, causing inflammation. Having inflammation anywhere in the body affects overall health, so reducing inflammation in the mouth through brushing and flossing is crucial.
Dentists ask for just five minutes a day, Messina said.
People should brush their teeth thoroughly twice a day, for at least two minutes with fluoride toothpaste, and floss once a day.
He recommends brushing once after breakfast in the morning and once before bed at night.
Soft bristle toothbrushes are the best.
Some people add "social brushing," or brushing after eating a garlic and onion lunch, for example, to get rid of bad breath.
This is a "great victory," says Messina, but it is not vital.
A mouthwash can also be used for added protection against bacteria in the mouth, but not as a substitute for thorough brushing and flossing.
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When considering the health of their children, parents sometimes neglect oral health, Doyle said.
"Dental disease is the most common chronic disease in children," said Doyle.
"It's usually the area where we see parents struggle the most," he explained.
Doyle recommends that parents demonstrate to their children that they must brush their teeth twice a day, for two minutes each time, and that they must know how to use a toothbrush correctly.
Parents should also start flossing as soon as children's teeth grow big enough that the toothbrush can't get past them, says Doyle.
If your parents didn't instill solid oral hygiene habits in you in childhood, Messina said it's never too late to make improvements.
Isn't flossing part of your daily routine?
If you can get back to it once or twice a week, you'll realize how good your mouth feels, he said, and you'll quickly put it into practice every day.
"If the best time to start flossing was 20 years ago, the next best time is today," Messina said.
"Starting now and committing to a better oral hygiene program has immediate positive effects, so it's never too late."
Ashton KutcherHygieneMila Kunis