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Do you have to wash legs in the shower?

Whether or not you need to wash your legs in the shower is a common question that many people have. The simple answer is yes, you should be washing your legs whenever you shower. However, there are some caveats to this and reasons why washing your legs is important for hygiene and health.

Why You Should Wash Your Legs

Here are some of the main reasons why it’s important to wash your legs in the shower:

  • Remove dirt, sweat, and odor – Your legs sweat and accumulate dirt and bacteria throughout the day, just like your armpits and feet. Washing with soap and water helps rinse away this buildup.
  • Prevent body acne – Body acne on the legs, butt, and thighs is common. Washing regularly can help keep pores clear.
  • Exfoliate dead skin cells – Hot water and scrubbing with a washcloth removes dead skin cells and prevents ingrown hairs.
  • Improve circulation – The massaging motion of washing improves blood flow in the legs.
  • Moisturize skin – Using a moisturizing wash or soap helps keep leg skin from getting too dry.
  • Reduce odors and infections – Bacteria, yeast, and fungi can grow quickly in sweaty, unwashed areas leading to body odor and infections.
  • Apply products evenly – Washing ensures any products like body wash or shaving gel applied to other areas get evenly distributed.

As you can see, there are quite a few benefits to washing your legs each time you shower. Hygiene and preventing body odor are perhaps the most obvious reasons. But regularly washing your legs also has health benefits for your skin and circulation.

How to Properly Wash Your Legs

Washing your legs in the shower is simple but requires a bit more effort than just letting the water run over them. Here are some tips for effective leg washing technique:

  • Use warm water – Hot water can dry your skin. Warm water opens pores and cleans effectively.
  • Use a washcloth – Gently scrub up and down your legs with a soft cloth to exfoliate.
  • Use a body wash or soap – Choose a moisturizing formula to prevent dry skin.
  • Focus on problem areas – Spend more time washing joints like knees and ankles that get dirty and smelly.
  • Don’t forget feet – Scrub between toes and soles to remove bacteria and odors.
  • Shave after washing – Shave your legs after washing to allow for a closer shave.
  • Rinse thoroughly – Make sure to rinse off any soap residue that could clog pores.
  • Pat dry – Be gentle when drying off to keep skin from getting irritated.

You should take at least 60 seconds or so to thoroughly wash each leg from top to bottom. Reaching all areas with a washcloth and warm water will remove dirt while stimulating circulation. Be sure to use a mild cleanser and moisturize after to keep skin in good condition.

How Often You Really Need to Wash Your Legs

Most dermatologists and doctors recommend washing your legs whenever you shower. Showering daily or every other day is ideal for washing your whole body. Here are some general guidelines for leg washing frequency:

  • Daily – If you shower daily, you should wash your legs every time. This helps maintain good hygiene.
  • Every other day – If you shower every 2 days, be sure to wash legs each time. Legs can get smelly if you go longer.
  • After exercising – Wash legs after a workout to rinse away sweat and prevent breakouts.
  • After outdoor activities – Wash off pollen, dirt, and irritants after yardwork or playing outside.
  • When visibly dirty – Wash legs if visibly soiled even if you showered recently.
  • Shave less often – You only need to shave legs 1-2 times per week if hair regrowth is slow.

While legs don’t need shaving as frequently, you should aim to wash them thoroughly each time you shower. This may mean daily leg washing for some people or every 2-3 days for others based on individual hygiene needs and schedules. The warm water, soap and exfoliation is beneficial for the health and appearance of your legs.

Special Cases When You Should Always Wash Legs

While most dermatologists agree washing legs daily or with each shower is ideal, there are some scenarios where it’s especially important to remember to wash your legs:

  • After hiking or playing sports – Wash immediately after sweating to prevent rashes, bacteria growth, odor, and acne.
  • In hot, humid weather – Frequent washing prevents heat rash and sweat-related skin issues.
  • When legs are visibly dirty – Don’t wait for your next shower if legs are muddy or soiled.
  • After being in public spaces – Rinse away germs from surfaces like gym equipment.
  • With skin conditions like eczema – Carefully wash problem areas to avoid flare-ups.
  • Before applying self-tanner – Exfoliate and wash legs so the color goes on evenly.
  • If prone to body acne – Vigilant washing can help prevent breakouts.

Pay close attention to washing your legs after activities where they get extra dirty and sweaty. You should also be diligent about leg washing if you are prone to body acne or dry, irritated skin. Never wait until your next scheduled shower if your legs feel grimy.

Reasons People Skip Washing Their Legs

While most people know they should wash their legs in the shower, many still take shortcuts and skip this step. Here are some common reasons people give for not washing their legs:

  • Takes too much time – Thoroughly washing legs does take time many feel they don’t have.
  • Don’t pay attention – People often go on autopilot in the shower and forget to wash legs.
  • Legs don’t get that dirty – Some people believe legs stay relatively clean compared to other areas.
  • Don’t cause odor – Legs don’t stink as quickly when unwashed compared to armpits or feet.
  • Loofah can’t reach – It’s hard to bend to wash legs with a loofah or pouf.
  • Skin issues – Some avoid washing legs if they have dry skin, eczema or open wounds.
  • Water runs over legs – Many assume water alone is enough to clean legs.
  • Difficulty standing – Elderly or disabled may be unable to properly wash legs.

While these reasons may explain why some people cut corners with leg washing, it’s still recommended to take the time to fully wash your legs each shower. The health and hygiene benefits outweigh the minor time inconvenience.

What About Just Using Water?

Many people believe that the water and steam from the shower is enough to clean their legs without soap. However, simply letting water run over your legs is not enough to fully wash them. Here’s why you need more than just water:

  • Doesn’t dislodge dirt – Water alone cannot break down and rinse away dirt, dead skin cells, oils, etc.
  • Doesn’t remove bacteria – Water alone does not sanitize skin or wash away harmful germs.
  • No exfoliating – Water does not provide the scrubbing or exfoliating benefits of washcloth and soap.
  • No moisturizing – Water can dry out skin without the moisturizing effects of soap.
  • Can spread bacteria – Running water can move bacteria from one part of the body to another.
  • No odor prevention – Water does not breakdown sweat and oils that cause body odor.
  • Need friction – The physical friction of washing is needed to clean pores and skin surface.

While water does help rinse the legs, soap and the mechanical action of washing with a cloth are essential. Relying solely on water leads to inadequately washing your legs. Take a little extra time to use an effective cleansing method.

Tips for Making Leg Washing Easier

For those who find it difficult to wash their legs efficiently in the shower, here are some useful tips and tricks:

  • Use a long-handled bath brush – Makes it easier to reach feet, ankles, and calves.
  • Sit on a shower seat or chair – This makes legs more accessible if standing is difficult.
  • Use a detachable showerhead – Handheld showers are great for directing water and adjusting positions.
  • Lather up with a soap mitt – Slip on a mitt soaked in shower gel to quickly wash legs.
  • Ask for help – Have a caregiver wash your legs if you are unable.
  • Use moisture-rich soap – Choose formulas that won’t dry out skin with frequent washing.
  • Shave less often – Limit shaving to 1-2 times a week to spend more time washing.
  • Set a leg washing routine – Make sure to wash legs before rinsing off conditioner or at the end of your shower.

The key is using tools or techniques to make leg washing more convenient. Find a system that works for your mobility, flexibility and shower setup. Prioritize taking the time to properly clean your legs.

Health Risks of Not Washing Your Legs

Failing to regularly wash your legs can negatively impact your health and hygiene. Here are some of the potential risks:

  • Body odor – Sweat and bacteria buildup causes unpleasant odors if legs aren’t washed.
  • Skin infections – Bacteria, fungi and viruses can enter pores leading to infections.
  • Acne breakouts – Dead skin, oils and bacteria clog pores and cause leg acne.
  • Dry, flaky skin – Lack of moisture from soap and water leaves skin parched.
  • Irritated follicles – Ingrown hairs become irritated and inflamed without exfoliation.
  • Poor circulation – Lack of massaging and stimulation from washing can impede blood flow.
  • Athlete’s foot – Fungus spreads from unwashed feet and grows in moist areas between the toes.
  • Cellulitis – Bacteria entering through cracks in dry, unwashed skin can cause this infection.

Washing your legs regularly provides huge benefits for healthy, better looking skin. Failing to keep your legs clean, especially after sweating, can allow odor, fungi and bacteria to thrive. Make sure to add leg washing to your regular hygiene routine.

The Bottom Line

While you don’t necessarily have to use soap and scrub your legs each and every shower, it is highly recommended by doctors for good hygiene. Taking a little extra time 2-3 times a week to thoroughly wash your legs with a cloth, body wash and warm water provides many health and sanitary benefits.

Focus on fully washing your legs after workouts, outdoor activities or when visibly dirty. Be diligent if you are prone to body acne or skin conditions. And don’t forget about your feet. Washing your legs properly will help you feel confident they look and smell fresh.