These Are the Only 3 Body Parts You Need to Wash Every Day, Doctor Says

According to science, we all may be showering too often and scrubbing too thoroughly.

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For the last few months, you've heard over and over how important it is to wash your hands frequently and thoroughly in order to protect yourself and others from the coronavirus. And because that continues to be true, it might lead you to assume that regularly scrubbing the rest of your body is probably a good idea, too. However, that's not necessarily the case. In fact, excessive showering or bathing can actually do more harm than good. Accordingly to one doctor, you really only need to wash three parts of your body with soap: your armpits, groin, and feet. The rest of you? A simple rinse with water is all you need.

Sandy Skotnicki, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Toronto, recently told The Atlantic that scrubbing your body head to toe with soap and water can lead to problems like eczema and other skin conditions. Instead, she says to just focus on certain "bits," which "would be your underarms, groin, and feet."

close up of white man's feet in the shower
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If you scrub your whole body with soap, you risk destroying useful bacteria that help your microbiome to distinguish between good germs and bad germs, Robynne Chutkan, MD, founder of the Digestive Center for Women in Chevy Chase, Maryland, told Health. Your body needs certain bacteria, she says, and when you remove if from your skin by washing with soap, it lowers your immunity to certain viruses, putting you are an increased risk of getting sick. "Unless you've just finished a mud run, the only places that need daily soaping are your armpits and groin," Chutkan adds. "The rest of your body does fine with a rinse—even after a sweaty workout."

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One 2018 study published in Science Advances even found a particular strain of bacteria that lived on the skin of test subjects to be associated with a lower risk of skin cancer when compared to subjects who didn't have the bacteria. Just another example of helpful microbes you risk destroying by constantly scrubbing yourself with soap.

So why should you use soap on your underarms, groin, and feet if it is such a bad idea to use it on the rest of your body? Well, those three areas happen to be home to some of the most sensitive skin on your body and are more prone to things like fungus growth, ingrown hairs that can lead to infections, and are just generally more vulnerable to the development of bad bacteria and potentially harmful infections. And for more tips on what you should be doing as part of your daily routine, check out The One Daily Hygiene Habit You Need to Be Doing Right Now.

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