Are long, hot showers bad for your skin?

Showering Tips for Healthy Skin

We've already looked at how, bizarre as it may seem, hot showers actually dry out and damage your skin. Now we're ready to explore how you can combat dry, flaking skin and the itchiness that comes along with it.

First, make sure to keep showers short, 10 minutes at the most [source: University of Iowa]. Second, keep the water temperature lukewarm during your shower. On a side note, keep the thermostat on your water heater around 120 degrees F (49 degrees C). Not only will setting the temperature on the low side keep you from scalding yourself with hot water, it will also help you lower your energy bills [source: U.S. Department of Energy]. Make sure to avoid baths as well; they tend to dry skin out even more than showers.

When you do shower, you might consider using only using soap to wash areas where you sweat, like under the arms and around the groin. Some dermatologists even recommend showering less frequently, skipping your shower altogether at least once a week [source: Hubbell]. In addition, using gentle cleansers like Cetaphil can aid in protecting your skin's natural moisture barrier. Some cleansers even have moisturizing agents built in, making them a great choice for people with sensitive skin.

Once you've finished with your shower, pat (rather than rub) yourself dry and apply a good moisturizer. Moisturizers act as a temporary replacement for your skin's natural oils and prevent moisture from leaving the skin. Accordingly, try to apply moisturizer as soon as you get out of the shower; the longer you wait, the more moisture will escape. If you do experience dry skin, try your best to avoid scratching, which can irritate the skin even further. By following the tips above and moisturizing routinely, you should be able to get your dry skin under control. If you notice the dry skin worsening, however, you should consider visiting a dermatologist. You may have a condition such as dermatitis or psoriasis that is causing your discomfort.

Keep reading for more links on what else your shower is capable of. 

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. "Dry Skin (xerosis)." 2009. (12/27/2009)
  • Griffin, R. Morgan. "What's Causing Your Dry Skin Problem?" WebMD. March 6, 2009. (12/27/2009)
  • Hubbell, Lisa Jaffe. "Coming Clean - Dermatologist's Book Scrubs Away Myths About Skin Care." Dec. 1, 1999. (1227/2009)
  • National Geographic. "Skin." (12/23/2009).
  • Newsweek. "Do Long, Hot Showers Dry Your Skin?" Nov. 28, 2007. (12/27/2009)
  • O'Connell, Sanjida. "Shower heads make a perfect home for bugs." NewScientist. Sept. 15, 2009. (12/27/2009)
  • Sweeney, Camille. "It's Cold and Your Skin is Suffering. So What Are You Doing to Moisturize?" New York Times. Feb. 4, 2009. (12/23/2009)
  • University of Iowa. "Winter Dry Skin." 2005. (12/27/2009)
  • U.S. Department of Energy. "Water Heating." 4/9/2009. (12/27/2009)