Do You Know What’s Growing on Your Loofah?
A dermatologist explains why your shower loofah isn’t as clean as you think it is.
You may love your loofah, but don’t get too attached. You won’t want the things that can lurk in a loofah to linger.
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By their nature, loofah sponges have lots of nooks and crannies, and they’re very porous. When people use a loofah to scrub off dead skin cells, those cells become lodged in the nooks and crannies. And that sets the stage for a bacterial breeding ground, says dermatologist Melissa Piliang, MD.
“Loofahs are interesting,” she says. “They’re used in a wet environment and you hang them up in the shower, which is also a wet environment. They don’t ever totally dry out, so the loofah is a beautiful breeding ground for bacteria.”
Loofahs can contain fungal organisms that lead to skin infections. “That’s why it’s important to make sure you keep your loofahs clean, replace them regularly and use them gently — do not rub your skin too vigorously.”
So how should you properly care for your loofah? Dr. Piliang offers a few tips:
You may also want to consider washcloths as a good alternative to loofahs. They don’t present the same degree of problems. Their physical structure makes them less susceptible to anything lodging in them — and also makes them easier to clean and dry, Dr. Piliang says. Plus, people tend to wash them in the laundry and replace them more often than they would with a traditional loofah.