It’s easy to come up with a quick list of reasons as to why showers are a healthy and enjoyable practice. They are refreshing and invigorating. They relax tired muscles. And they clean away the day’s collective dirt, leaving your body in a healthier and more hygienic condition.
Be that as it may, however, showers can come with harmful properties too, from dangerous infections to hazardous environments just waiting to cause accidents. Here are some of the main concerns you should be aware of.
1. Eye Infection
Acanthamoeba is a common protozoan found worldwide in almost any place you can imagine, including soil, air, tap water, and even on your skin. These organisms are generally harmless, but if introduced to the cornea, they can cause an inflammation known as keratitis. This condition is rare, but can last for months and even result in blindness. Due to minor scratches, contact lens wearers are at a higher risk, and so you should never shower with these coverings in.
2. Ear Infection
Known as “swimmer’s ear”, this infection is caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacteria which thrives in almost any environment including your domestic water. Exposure can occur in heated swimming pools, hot-tubs, and the shower, leading to pain, itching, discharge, and deafness. Healthier individuals usually manage to shake this infection rather quickly, but for those with weakened immune systems, it can prove fatal.
3. Blood Infection
Much like an ear infection, the Pseudomonas aeruginosa can also get into your blood, and as you can imagine, this is a much more serious ordeal. Along with fevers, chills, and joint pain, this condition has been reported to cause multiple organ failures. Due to the Pseudomonas aeruginosa resistance to many antibiotics, those with weaker immune systems will require critical attention.
4. Lung Infection
Legionella bacteria is known to flourish in hot water and can travel via airborne droplets. When inhaled, these organisms may cause Legionnaires’ disease, which is a form of pneumonia with symptoms much like the flu (such a coughing, fevers, headaches, and fatigue). Because of these similarities, it is often misdiagnosed. Prevent the infection by always running your taps for five minutes before climbing in, especially if the shower is new or hasn’t been used in a while.
5. Skin Irritation and Infections
If you shower too often, the hot water can rob your body of natural oils and healthy bacteria while drying out your skin. Furthermore, fungal infections (like athlete's foot) are easily spread in communal shower locations. Avoid these skin irritations by showering every other day and prevent the spread of fungal infection by wearing shower shoes at the gym. One should also seek immediate treatment at the first signs of itchiness.
6. Scalp Infection
Keeping your hair clean may be important for hygienic upkeep, but your shower can also have negative effects on your scalp. This is because of a type of fungus called Malassezia restricta which breeds within your shower head. Your best line of defense is to regularly disinfect your shower and talk to your doctor about taking antibiotics if any rash develops.
7. Crohn's Disease
There have been some unignorable links which connect Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (a bacteria found in domestic showers) to Crohn's disease. This is a very serious condition, which can inflame any part of the gastrointestinal tract, causing nausea, diarrhea, and weight loss. It is currently incurable. One good idea is to always run the shower for a few minutes before getting in.
8. High Temperatures
Whether bathing a child or an elderly loved one, it is easy to misjudge the water’s temperature and cause severe burns on the individual’s skin. Your best approach is one of caution, by starting with a cooler degree of warmth, and then slowly adding more hot water as you go. Once you’ve reached the optimal level, take note of the temperature via a thermometer, and use that figure as a future reference point.
9. Slips and Falls
The unstable combination of soap, water, and tiles can make for a very dangerous showering environment, especially for those with mobility limitations. Prevent potential injury by installing grab bars, using anti-slip bath mats, and including a shower seat for a safer washing experience.
10. Contamination from Bath Toys
Finally, it has been reported that up to 58% of all bath toys carry some form of fungus on them. It may bring you joy to watch your little one splashing around with their favorite rubber ducky, but if this bacteria transfers into your baby’s eye, ear, or stomach, you are introducing the above risks into a much more undeveloped immune system. Regularly boil these toys to eliminate the bacteria and replace them regularly.