Discover the surprising effects of skipping morning showers with two exceptional men who’ve lived over 100 years without bathing! Let’s dive into the science of hygiene and why singing in the shower isn’t for everyone!
Topics of today’s article:
- The Unusual Cases of Singh and Haji
- Hypothesis Behind Showerless Life
- Benefits of Bathing
- Understanding Body Odour
- Whitlock’s Bacterial Solution
Taking a shower is considered by many as a fundamental daily hygiene practice – a sanctuary for some. A space to introspect, to shed tears, and some even indulge in a cold beer while at it. But can you imagine giving up showers for decades?
Kailash Singh from India and AMU Haji from Iran have collectively lived over a hundred years without bathing. It may sound absolutely bonkers, but it’s their truth. Haji attributes his aversion to bathing to trauma from his childhood, while Singh believes his choice not to clean himself will aid him and his wife in birthing a son.
It seems rather incomprehensible given that Singh already has seven daughters. Nonetheless, these men have been tagged as stinky by everyone around them. But what exactly happens to a person’s body when they decide to ditch regular bathing?
> Disclaimer: This blog seeks to educate on the science of hygiene, not recommend any course of action. Ask your doctor what’s best for you.
Bathing and Beyond – Body Odor and Dead Skin Cells
The first thing you’ll notice when you start your journey to a soapless, showerless life is the proliferation of body odor, especially in regions where body hair grows. If you leave it long enough, all parts of your body will generate more odor. Next, dead skin cells will accumulate, leading to a condition known as hypercarotosis.
Elizabeth Tanzi, an associate professor at George Washington University Medical Center’s dermatology Department, reveals that lack of proper cleansing or exfoliation can lead to itchy skin. She also mentions the possibility of generating a greasy scaly rash on certain parts of the face, scalp, and chest. As if that’s not enough, you become more vulnerable to fungal and bacterial growth, especially in body areas most prone to sweating.
The Science of Hygiene – Ecrine vs Apocrine Sweat Glands
Sweat glands (Apocrine and Ecrine) are usually the culprit behind most body odor issues. Apocrine glands can only be found where body hair grows as they open and secrete into hair follicles. They secrete a sweat comprised of proteins, lipids, and steroids, promoting more bacterial growth than Ecrine sweat. However, even if your body only had Ecrine glands, abstaining from showers for weeks would still lead you to smell significantly.
A fascinating aspect of these two glands is that the ratio between them differs between ethnicities. [An article published in Frontiers of Genetics] highlighting a study by Toshihisa Ishikawa explained this due to genetic variations.
Friend or Foe – The Bacteria Problem
Eliminating bacteria completely does not necessarily mean you become healthier; it only makes you stink less. However, in a balance of microbial life, studies suggest it’s not externally beneficial to strip your skin of helpful bacteria.
David Whitlock, the co-founder of skincare brand Mother Dirt, proposes an intriguing point. He’s been on a showerless path since 2004 but claims to be quite odor-free. How come, you ask? He’s allegedly perfected a good bacteria serum that helps keep body odor at bay.
After thorough research, Whitlock discovered ammonia oxidizing bacteria (AOB), which help in neutralizing body odor. He propagates that it’s possible to not shower and still maintain a decent smell adequate to blend into society.
Whitlock claims that you don’t have to stop showering completely to relish the benefits of AOB. All you need to do is use an AOB spray post-shower to maintain your skin flora balance.
Weighing Hygiene’s Worth
Maintaining regular hygiene habits benefits you tremendously, but additional research is being conducted on how skin microbiomes affect our health. Just as probiotic yogurt has a positive influence on our gastrointestinal microbiome, so too can probiotic skincare products on our skin.
But for many of us – the ones who can’t escape body odor due to genetics – will have to continue the old shower regimen every few days. We would miss the moments of solace spent in the shower, despite the claims of benefits of going showerless.
The author highlights the extreme cases of two men, Kailash Singh of India and AMU Haji of Iran, who have gone without bathing for decades. While explaining the reasoning behind their decisions, the author proceeds to discuss the physiological reactions of the body when one forgoes bathing. Side effects include body odor, dead skin cells accumulation leading to a condition known as hypercarotosis and rashes, increased risk of fungal and bacterial growth and infections.
However, regular bathing is beneficial, offering both aesthetic and stress relieving benefits as noted by the American Center for Disease Control as well as the removal of metabolic waste materials from the body. The author also explores the theory of chemical engineer, David Whitlock, co-founder of skincare brand Mother Dirt, who claims he has not showered since 2004.
Instead, he uses a serum of ‘good bacteria’ that neutralizes the bodily odor by consuming the stinky by-products of regular bacteria.
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