How do you shower? You may be causing harm to your brain and heart – pharmacist
Showering: Dermatologist recommends ways to keep skin healthy
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There are different approaches to showering and each approach provides unique health benefits. Research increasingly points to the benefits of having a cold shower, for example. Most people opt for a hot steamy shower. This typically involves letting the hot water run, which in turn causes billowy clouds of steam to fill up the room.
Steam provides an array of health benefits, such as promoting good circulation and alleviating stress. However, there are hidden health risks.
“Steam from a shower can make you feel lightheaded and dizzy,” explained Abbas Kanani, pharmacist at Chemist Click to Express.co.uk.
This is because the “body’s response to high body temperature is to move blood to the surface of the skin to cool before taking it back to its core”, he explained.
Feeling lightheaded and dizzy can be a telltale sign the steam is causing your blood pressure to drop.
Mr Kanani explained how steam can cause a reduction in blood pressure.
“During this process, the arteries expand, becoming larger than they would normally, causing the blood to flow with less pressure as a result.”
In addition to dizziness or light-headedness, nausea can also signal low blood pressure, he said.
While this may seem benign, a prolonged reduction in blood pressure can have grave consequences.
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According to the Mayo Clinic, “severely low blood pressure can deprive your body of enough oxygen to carry out its functions, leading to damage to your heart and brain”.
The optimal approach to showering
Mounting evidence makes the case for braving a cold shower.
Research published in the journal PLoS One suggests a cold plunge can help to fend off sickness.
The aim of the study was to determine the cumulative effect of a routine cold shower on sickness, quality of life and work productivity.
Between January and March 2015, 3018 participants between 18 and 65 years without a severe comorbidity (underlying health condition) and no routine experience of cold showering were randomised to a (hot-to-) cold shower for 30, 60, 90 seconds or a control group during 30 consecutive days followed by 60 days of showering cold at their own discretion for the intervention groups.
To evaluate the effect of cold showering, illness days and related sickness absence from work were recorded.
Quality of life, work productivity, anxiety, thermal sensation and adverse reactions were also monitored.
Seventy nine percent of participants in the interventions groups completed the 30 consecutive days study.
A 29 percent reduction in sickness absence for a cold showering regimen compared to the control group was observed.
For illness days, there was no significant group effect. No related serious adverse events were reported.
“A routine (hot-to-) cold shower resulted in a statistical reduction of self-reported sickness absence but not illness days in adults without severe comorbidity,” the researchers concluded.
What are the health impacts of showering (or bathing) every day?
According to Harvard Health, normal, healthy skin maintains a layer of oil and a balance of “good” bacteria and other microorganisms.
“Washing and scrubbing removes these, especially if the water is hot.”
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