bath vs showerShare on Pinterest
Kelly Knox/Stocksy United

Both showers and baths can be a healthy part of your hygiene routine. But is there one method of lathering up that’s better for you?

The answer is: Yes! Well, sort of.

Baths are great for certain purposes. Showers are better for other purposes. The method of cleaning your body that’s right for you will depend on what you’re looking for.

Let’s take a look at the benefits of baths, the benefits of showers, and the times when it’s clear that one is better for you than the other.

First, let’s address the obvious: Showers are cleaner than baths. If your priority is finding a way to thoroughly cleanse your entire body, a shower is the way to go.

Showers evenly distribute water over your body and whisk contaminated water out of sight. When you are taking a shower, water efficiently mixes with soap on your body to break apart oils, dirt, and sweat that are stuck to your skin. The water that’s been used to clean your body then quickly runs down into your drain.

Showers may be better for cleansing your body, but that doesn’t mean that baths don’t serve a purpose of their own.

Baths are great for relaxing your muscles, stimulating your nervous system, and gently exfoliating skin. A cross-sectional study published in 2018 found that participants who took immersion baths in warm water each day experienced less fatigue, stress, and depression. Although this was a small, limited study with only 38 participants, the results were compelling.

There’s also the fact that baths are a great delivery system for lots of ingredients that are beneficial to your health. Types of baths that are good for you include the following:

Sitz baths boost healing

Sitting in warm water that only comes up to around your hips and lower buttocks is called a sitz bath. A sitz bath is a great home remedy to promote healing of your perineum after giving birth. It can also be used to treat:

Oatmeal baths soothe inflammation

An oatmeal bath may be used to relieve symptoms of eczema and psoriasis, and to soothe redness and inflammation on your skin.

Aromatherapy baths relax your mind and body

A bath with a few drops of essential oils can be used to calm your mind and soothe tired muscles. Lavender and eucalyptus are especially relaxing.

Cold and flu baths help you feel better

A warm bath with water over your chest might help if you’re fighting a cold or the flu. When you’re sick, taking a bath can help relieve congestion, break a fever, and relax sore muscles.

Showers also have some advantages that shouldn’t be overlooked. Hot showers produce steam and warmth, which can soothe muscles and release toxins, while cooler showers can help burn fat and boost immunity.

Showers can boost your immune system

Showering, particularly cold showers, may boost your immune system. A 2016 study showed that taking hot-to-cold showers, in which you start with hot water before decreasing the temperature, resulted in adults taking fewer sick days over the course of a year.

Showers can make your hair and skin glow

Showers can improve circulation under your skin, also known as vasoconstriction. This may stimulate blood flow at your scalp, improving the way your hair looks, and also promoting that “glowing” look of healthy skin.

Cold showers may help treat depression

Showers that start at a lukewarm temperature and are adjusted to gradually get colder have been suggested to stimulate your nervous system, promote endorphins, and help improve symptoms of depression.

Your personal hygiene priorities should determine whether you take a bath or a shower.

If you’re interested in promoting relaxation, easing fatigue, and treating chronic pain, a bath might be the right choice for you.

If you’re more interested in an efficient daily cleansing, a shower might be the better choice. Showers may also deliver an immune-system boost if you turn the water to the cold setting for the last several minutes of your routine.