TYRADES! Do you swim too often? | Open


When I was working at my late uncle’s scrapyard during college, one of the regular customers (a crusty coot who looked like a cantankerous sidekick to Roy Rogers) assured us that he was lounging in a steaming tub every night.

We were skeptical, but it still burned in my brain an image of grimy tumbleweeds bursting through the moss. Brrrrr.

Either way, for the past several decades I have taken for granted the righteousness of a daily shower.

But a recent discussion on social media about celebrity couples having lax personal hygiene standards for themselves and their children got me researching the topic of frequency of showers and baths.

The weather is changing. When I was doing a lot of scrap yard work, “Dueling Banjos” was on AM radio. Now the Internet is full of dermatologists in a duel.

Some dermatologists tell us that polite company-approved daily cleansing is the safest bet. Others warn that it may be unnecessary or even harmful to bathe more than three or four times a week (with the exception of sponge baths for armpits, feet and private parts).

Emboldened by the second group of skin doctors, a myriad of rebels are only too happy to rain down on the parade of people who truly enjoy the physical and emotional aspects of the bathing ritual. (“I demand a retraction! We’re not raining on anyone. They might feel pressured to dry off with a towel! Oh, humanity!”)

The passion of these fanatics catches me off guard. With all the geese and swans to worry about, who would have imagined that Rubber Duckie would top the 2021 endangered waterfowl list? Who imagined that singing in the shower would boil down to “Well I’m running on the road / Trying to loosen my… To be continued”?

Advocates of infrequent swimming have mastered both positive and negative reinforcement to achieve their goals. My Google searches for this column revealed websites that promised my skin would be “vibrant and radiant” if I just cut back on washing. I think this ship has sailed before – and has grazed her starboard hull against both cheeks, if my mirror is any indication.

Some websites have warned me that bathing too often can disrupt my skin microbiome. Seriously, if a little soap and water is causing my good bacteria so much angst, I’m not too confident about how they would handle a caged match with my BAD bacteria. Maybe the good bacteria should just quit while they’re ahead and accept a “join” tape.

Several experts have touted reducing the amount of water used as a way to save the planet. I can just imagine Jack Bauer of “24” running against time to thwart such nasty water wasters. (“He showered for five minutes and a second! Nooooooooon!”)

Millions of people are on the alert after being intimidated by the unintended consequences of their daily baths / showers. They are still waiting for the other shoe to fall. (“No, don’t drop the other shoe just yet. That little piggy isn’t supposed to take a bath until the day after tomorrow!”)

Seriously, what other complex systems are we messing up? If you cut your nose hair, will it explode your Achilles tendon? Curious minds want to know.

Do what’s best for you. Consider your skin type, season, and level of exertion. Get professional advice. Get a second opinion.

“I’ll even give you a third opinion. Your soundtrack killed my canary. I hated this canary. You’re welcome.”

Danny Tyree accepts email responses to [email protected] and visits to his “Tyree’s Tyrades” Facebook fan page.


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