Dr. Robynne Chutkan, the founder of the Digestive Center for Women in Chevy Chase, Maryland, and author of The Microbiome Solution, tells Health.com that using anti-bacterial soap on a daily basis strips your skin of bacteria that keep you free from acne and eczema. In fact, the only spots that need a regular scrubbing are your armpits and your groin.
This goes beyond your typical morning or nightly shower too — Chutkan says that even after a sweaty workout, you should still refrain from lathering up with soap. A simple rinse will do (although I’m not sure how you’re supposed to eliminate the odor).
In terms of other unnecessary cleanliness habits that many of us partake in, Chutkan reaffirms the view that hand sanitizers are all but worthless, “unless you’ve been hanging out on an Ebola ward.” Microbes you pick up from the surrounding environment is not going to kill you, so there’s no need to kill it by squeezing chemicals on to your skin.
Finally, Chutkan suggests that everyone should find time to go outside and get a little dirty during the week. Open a window, sit on the grass in the park, buy food from a farmer’s market — expose yourself to healthy microbes so that your body will be prepared to deal with unwanted bacteria when and if it arrives.