While wildly popular with kids, adults don’t often have the time (or the desire) to take baths. But there are compelling reasons you should consider a regular soak.
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“Taking baths has great physical and mental health benefits,” says family medicine provider Amy Zack, MD. “One benefit is cleanliness. Bathing cleans your skin, helping you avoid irritation, inflammation and sores caused by dead skin cell accumulation. The bacterial and fungal load from contact in your environment can also accumulate, increasing the risk of infection.”
But beyond cleanliness, Dr. Zack shares three more reasons why baths are good for you and tips for getting the most from them:
1. Warm baths improve mental and emotional health
Candlelight, soothing music and sweet smells: Done right, a bath can be the ultimate in self-care.
“Baths help many people sleep well,” notes Dr. Zack. “They also create a good environment for meditation, thought and escape from everyday stressors.”
Some research also shows that a 30-minute bath at 104 Fahrenheit (think the temperature in a hot tub) improves depression. Warm baths are also linked to decreases in stress hormones and more balanced serotonin levels, which help regulate mood.
2. Warm baths soothe muscles and joints
Soaking in a warm bath a few times each week can also help with muscle soreness and tension, making it easier to exercise each day, says Dr. Zack.
To kick it up a notch, some add Epsom salts, a naturally occurring mineral salt product. Research suggests that Epsom salts help relax muscles and relieve pain. All it takes is 300 grams in a tub full of hot water for 15 minutes to experience the benefits.
3. Baths can help heal wounds
Dr. Zack says that baths can help soothe infected sores and wounds. Your doctor may recommend soaking the area with a warm saltwater solution to aid healing. However, some wounds should be kept dry, so check with your doctor before dipping.
Rub-a-dub-dub: Tips for taking a bath
But before you turn the water on, Dr. Zack says there are some do’s and don’ts to getting the most out of your bath routine:
- Take a bath every day: Daily baths can dry out your skin.
- Use Epsom salts or another bath product daily: This practice can dry skin as well, leading to itching, irritation and eczema.
- Create a quiet space: For maximum relaxation, close the door and say no to endless interruptions.
- Use warm (not hot) water: Some people may experience dizziness or weakness when the temperature is too hot.
- Use products that you find relaxing: While bubbles or bath salts may take your bath from enjoyable to life-changing, Dr. Zack says that just water is fine, too. Do whatever works best for you.