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To Bathe or Not To Bathe?

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Oak Tree Team

5th January, 2024

Bath Tub

This long-fought argument falls into two familiar camps; those who advocate bathing for its health benefits and relaxing properties and those who would prefer showers for their efficiency, water saving and hygiene reasons.

Are you a bath or shower person? This age-old debate has some pretty staunch opinions. But which is better for you? In this blog, we discuss the pros and cons of both and discuss which is best.

Pros for taking a shower


1. They are quick and efficient

Preferences are often based on personality. If you’re a busy person who likes things done efficiently you may find that baths are boring and a waste of time. For these people a quick and easy shower gets the job done and saves time for doing other important things, especially if you’re a morning washer. A bath would just take up too much time if you’re trying to rush out the door.

2. Image vs. reality

Often the image depicted on the TV of having a relaxing bath is better than the reality. Imagine the scene: the peaceful ambiance, facemask on, wine in hand, a good book in the other, which rapidly turns into hot, sweaty discomfort, the heat and steam magnifying the effects of the wine and making you dehydrated and now you have a soggy book. Not ideal.

3. Saving water

It’s true that if you’re only taking a short shower, it does use less water than filling up the entire bath. Even making small changes, like saving water make a huge difference to the environment.

4. Baths are gross

One of the main arguments for taking a shower rather than a bath is that any dirt or dead skin simply washes away down the drain, instead of remaining in the bathwater. Some argue that the best way to alleviate this problem is to shower before and after, but this doesn’t seem to help the water-saving problem.

However, more concerning to doctors is not which way you choose to rinse off, but for how long you do so. “We don’t have to have a long shower or a long bath to be clean, and scrubbing yourself more will just make your skin drier,” said Emma Guttman-Yassky, a professor and vice-chair of the Department of Dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center. Guttman-Yassky recommends bathers should rinse off under freshwater to be sure no soap sticks to the body after a soak.

Furthermore, bathing in spas, which might lead to hot tub folliculitis, a condition in which bacteria inflames hair follicles and causes a red, bumpy rash. Lauren Ploch, spokeswoman for the American Academy of Dermatology, told The Huffington Post “I recommend rinsing with water or even washing with soap and water before exiting a [spa] bath to prevent this,”  And if you have eczema, try to get in and out of any hot shower or bath between five and 10 minutes to best protect your skin.

However, unless you are covered in mud, there is no evidence to say a bath leaves you any cleaner than a shower. Dr. Bowe says that if you work out regularly, or wear a lot of makeup, you should opt for showers over a bath. “Showers are more hygienic in these cases because you are rinsing all those particles down the drain, rather than bathing in them,” she says.

Another time when a shower is preferable? Shampoo-and-conditioner days. “Not only is it difficult to fully rinse shampoo out in a bath, but sitting in a bath full of shampoo can strip skin of natural oils,” says Dr. Bowe. Like with baths, the temperature of your shower is crucial for determining just how beneficial it will be, Dr. Bowe says. “If you are prone to dry skin, keep showers lukewarm and short. Long, hot showers can dry out the skin,” she says. This also applies to your hair.

It’s also true that bathtubs are full of bacteria, but it’s nothing that your body can’t handle. Just make sure that your bath is clean and that you don’t have any open wounds while you bathe.

5. Better for your skin

Showering might be better for your skin health, according to one dermatologist. “While both are great for keeping clean, prolonged lounging in a bath can lead to dry skin,” Ploch also warns. It’s true that if you bathe in hot water it can dry out your skin and strip it of its essential oils. Although it could be argued that a very hot shower would do the same. Make sure you’re moisturising after you bathe or shower to replace those oils or turn that temperature down.

Pros for taking a bath

Lady taking a bath

1. The relaxing factor

If you can manage to keep still, taking time out of your day to rest and reflect can do wonders for your mental health. Constantly rushing around without stopping to rest your mind and body can be very damaging. Getting into a routine of relaxation can help alleviate stress. Baths also increase blood-flow which improves circulation, lowers blood pressure by decreasing arterial stiffness and releases endorphins.

2. A muscle de-stress

As well as being helpful for your mental health, baths also benefit your physical health. Warm water relaxes your muscles and helps muscle recovery. Use Epson salts to help aches and pains.

3. Baths help you sleep

If you struggle to sleep, having a muscle relaxing bath will unwind tensions in your body ready for sleep. Additionally, the act of heating your body and subsequently letting it cool down will make you sleepier.

4. Essential oils and aromatherapy

Both baths and showers strip your skin of essential oils because of the heat and just the cleaning process. But with a bath you can add essential oils to the bathwater, replacing what your skin needs, whilst also making a pleasant and relaxing smell. Just make sure that the products you use are natural and skin-friendly before you use them especially if you have delicate skin.

Practicing aromatherapy has also been proven to have mental health benefits.

Of the two options, baths are, without a doubt, the more relaxing, which dermatologist Doris Day, MD, says can be great for your skin in the long run. “You can add ingredients into the bathwater to help treat the skin, which doesn’t work in the shower,” she says. “If you have aches and pains, you can add Epsom salt. If you have eczema, dry, irritated skin, or a sunburn, you can add oatmeal, whole milk, and honey.”

Dermatologist Whitney Bowe, MD, adds that baths can lower cortisone levels, which in turn helps delay premature aging and reduce acne. She recommends using the soak-and-smear technique (soak for 10 minutes, then pat on moisturiser or oil as soon as you step out), especially if you have skin that tends to get dry. “If you forget the smear part, you will be worse off than before the bath because all the water evaporates out of the skin and leaves your skin dehydrated,” she says. Dr. Bowe also recommends avoiding bubbles and any other products that foam. That’s typically a sign that they contain detergents, which can strip the skin of natural, good-for-you oils. Keep body washes to showering, says Dr. Bowe. Soaking in them for too long will dry out your skin.

Another aspect of baths that can put your skin in danger: The heat level. If your bath is too hot, you’re at risk of parching your skin in the long run. And finally, put aside your worries about baths being unhygienic. Dr. Day says sitting in bathwater is far from filthy, as I had assumed. “The dirt tends to settle away from the skin and body. It gets diluted in the entirety of the bathwater,” she says. “Most people aren’t rolling around in mud, so we’re not very dirty.” Unless you’re competing in a Tough Mudder.

5. Safety and bathing

The risk of slipping in a bath is slim because you’re already lying down. This is especially helpful if you’re prone to falls or your coordination isn’t what it used to be.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether you like baths or showers, both are great and it depends on your personal preference! What’s not great is when you love baths but are no longer able to take them. If you struggle to get in the bath because of mobility issues. Well just take a look at how an Oak Tree Bath Lift can help make your life and bathing so much easier.

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