A disgusting thought? Of course, because being able to wash each day is something that most of us take for granted. That sensation of scrubbing up and coming out fresh from the shower or warming up and relaxing weary muscles in a hot bath. Sure it feels great, but what if you didn’t, or even couldn’t? The consequences could be deadly. There are loads of really good reasons why you should keep your body clean, and it’s not just because you’ll start to smell bad. Here’s what happens if you don’t wash.
The Evolutionary Importance of Keeping Clean
Our bodies are crawling with bacteria all the time, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Most of these bacteria are harmless and they take up space on our skin that could otherwise be used by more nasty bacteria. Washing regularly keeps this balance of good bacteria over bad, and it also gets rid of all the dead skin, oil, dirt and sweat that covers our bodies. After a few months of not washing it’s likely you’ll suffer from dermatitis neglecta, where the dirt and grime collects in patches and darkens the color of your skin.
You will also smell really bad, because all that muck on your skin will be fed upon by bacteria and converted into the stinky chemicals that cause bromhidrosis, more commonly called body odor. If you have splotchy skin and stink like a garbage truck, it’s unlikely even your own mother will want to come anywhere near you, let alone a girl that you’ve got the hots for. So from this point of view washing is a key component for the survival of the human race.
Not washing is going to make your body a much more attractive place for bacteria to live and grow, but there is another organism that might decide to put down roots too. Your hair and body could quickly become infested with lice, which will begin living in your clothes and bed linen. These critters will regularly crawl into the moist dark areas of your skin, like your armpits and groin, and feed on your blood. Creepy.
Some really serious health complications can arise if you don’t scrub up every so often. While your skin is a great barrier against dangerous pathogens just dying to get inside of your body, if your skin is filthy you might end up letting them in. You’re going to itch and scratch if you don’t wash, and when you break your skin the door is open for lethal germs to make a new home.
Let’s say you have staphylococcus aureus hanging around on your skin. It’s a pretty common type of bacteria that doesn’t do much harm on top of your skin, but if if gets inside your body through a cut it’s a different story. Boils filled with pus can rise up, the contagious and fast spreading skin infection impetigo could take hold, and you could even contract life-threatening pneumonia or meningitis.
How Long Could You Last?
So there you have it, a glimpse into the reality of what life would be like if you didn’t wash. It doesn’t sound too great does it? If you’re still not convinced try not showering for a week and see how hard it is to keep yourself from grabbing a bar of Dr. Squatch soap and scrubbing up. My money’s on you lasting a few days at most.
Featured image: “Rien van Nunen” by R. Frings – Beeld en Geluidwiki – Stiefbeen en zoon. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 nl via Wikimedia Commons/Cropped