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October 24, 2018

Long soaks in bathtub damages your skin

"Temperature dictates how much moisture is retained in the skin during bathing. Too hot of water will scald the skin and cause it to dry out quicker during the shower or bath." /REUTERS
"Temperature dictates how much moisture is retained in the skin during bathing. Too hot of water will scald the skin and cause it to dry out quicker during the shower or bath." /REUTERS

Taking a bath - sometimes accompanied with a fizzing bomb or bubbles - can be a relaxing way to unwind after a long day. 

But dermatologists warn that these long soaks in the tub can actually be damaging to the skin.  

Dr Rachel Nazarian, a dermatologist at the Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City, explained to Today the only time baths can be beneficial.

"The only benefit (to baths) is its ability to easily apply certain ingredients to skin," she said.  

"You can add oats to bath water which can be quite soothing to skin suffering from eczema, or even certain medication treatments can be placed in the water to avoid applying to your entire skin by hand, but otherwise, showers are much more beneficial," she added. 

If someone wants to use a bath bomb or bubbles, it is important to incorporate ones with ingredients such as coconut or olive oil. 

Using products with harsher ingredients, like sulfates and parabens, will do more damage than good for the top layer of skin.

Showers are recommended compared to taking a long bath because they expose the skin to less water, which then prevents the top layer from losing all of its natural oils.

Natural oils are essential to the skin's top layer because it keeps it hydrated while also preventing the outbreak of acne.

Also, showers tend to be better for the environment - if you aren't under the head for a long time - because the method tends to use less water.

Dr Whitney Bowe, a dermatologist in NYC, told Refinery29 that while the bath can help lower cortisone levels, stripping the of its oils will cause damage. 

"Not only is it difficult to fully rinse shampoo out in a bath, but sitting in a bath full of shampoo can strip skin of natural oils," Dr. Bowe said.

Water is an effective way to moisturize the skin, but it is important to have the temperature at lukewarm rather than hot to avoid scalding the top layer. 

The National Eczema Association recommends that if you decide to take a bath, only remain in the water for 10 to 15 minutes to prevent the skin from drying out.

A person then should moisturize within three minutes of stepping out of the water.

When toweling off, the skin should be lightly patted to keep it slightly damp before you rub in moisturizer or lotion. Patting dry the skin instead of rubbing prevents irritation and inflammation.   

Nazarian also recommends for people to be careful when they are picking the right moisturizer for their skin. Ones with fragrances can trigger allergies and increase any irritation already on the skin. 

HOW TO KEEP SKIN HYDRATED WHILE BATHING

1. Keep the temperature to lukewarm instead of hot

Temperature dictates how much moisture is retained in the skin during bathing. Too hot of water will scald the skin and cause it to dry out quicker during the shower or bath. 

2. Limit your time in (or under) the water to between 10 and 15 minutes

Long baths or showers will strip the skin of its natural oils, which help keep it hydrated and free of acne. 

3. Take more showers than baths

The skin is exposed to less water during a shower, which helps it keep its natural oils.  

4. Moisturize the skin within three minutes of bathing 

The skin should be damp when moisturizer is applied after a bath or shower.  

5. Avoid products with fragrances or other harsh ingredients 

Fragrances can further irritate and dry out the skin. Pick moisturizers that are fragrance-free if you have sensitive skin. 

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