You just finished a sweaty workout. You feel awesome, but you're also sticky, and you probably smell. Bad. It's pretty safe to say that you should definitely hop in the shower to get rid of all that gunk. Yet, if you go to bed without showering, you run the risk of getting some nasty health conditions, and your sheets will probably stink (which could make it harder to fall asleep, anyway). What's more, if this becomes a routine, it can become a pretty nasty habit to cut out.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on fitting in exercise, as it's great for the mind, body, and soul. Beyond just burning calories, building muscle, and keeping the heart healthy, it's also a great stress-buster. However, it's not just enough to get through that sweat session; the clean up is equally important. Apart from feeling uncomfortable (Constricting, sweaty, damp clothing? Doesn't feel so great on the skin.), it can also lead to skin woes and other gross diseases due to bacterial buildup. To keep yourself safe, hit the showers or wash your skin with a moist toilette in the meantime, if you don't have immediate access to a bathroom. Here, 7 gross things that can happen if you don't shower after a workout and hit the hay.
1. Bacterial Growth
According to Rebecca Gahan, Kick@55 Owner and Founder, over email with Bustle, "when we sweat while exercising, we create a breeding ground for bacteria to grow." Icky, right? When this bacteria builds up, it can lead to skin infections and other health concerns, so washing it immediately is super important.
2. Bad Body Odor (And Smelly Sheets)
Sure, you might smell after a class (your clothes definitely will), but if you're going to bed without showering, you might notice your sheets and body start to smell, as well, says Gahan. Plus, once that bacteria is on the sheets, it'll infect you while you sleep. "At the very least, if time is not on your side, change out of your sweaty clothes into dry ones and use talc-free baby powder to soak up moisture," and never go to bed in those nasty clothes, says Gahan.
Your skin might get red and inflamed if it's a habit to go to bed post-workout without properly cleaning your skin. This could be seen as a more moderate level reaction to poor hygiene, says Gahan, and rashes can be pretty hard to clear up. Plus, they can easily spread to other areas.
4. Yeast Infection
Uh-oh. No one wants to get a yeast infection. If all you need is to spare a few minutes to hop in a shower to avoid a yeast infection, I say do it. According to Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, FAAD, board-certified dermatologist in Beverly Hills and Clinical Instructor at the University of Southern California, over email with Bustle, "certain yeasts thrive on greasy, sweaty skin. While most people's skin doesn't really react to it, people with sensitive skin can develop scaly patches or pimples on the scalp, face and trunk." Luckily, "showering will help remove some of the grease and the yeast to prevent skin reactions," Shainhouse adds.
5. Staph Infection
This ones's a doozy: A cluster of bacterial growth, it can include pus, abscesses, and boils, and it'll include swelling, redness, and pain at the touch. Gahan cautions against this health condition, as it's super uncomfortable and requires a medication to treat. What's more, "staph and other bacteria, as well as viruses that you pick up from gym equipment can cause skin infections if you have any open skin lesions, colds and flus, or if you touch your unwashed hands to your mouth," Shainhouse adds.
"Folliculitis, aka body acne, is associated with clogged pores, sebum, mechanical irritation, bacteria and inflammation," says Shainhouse. While you might get breakouts on your face, especially when PMSing, these flare-ups can happen elsewhere, like the back, neck, and chest. "Showering after working out helps to remove irritating sweat and grease, unclog pores and reduce skin bacteria," Shainhouse adds.
7. Itchy Skin
Here's where you might notice yourself scratching more than usual (and leaving those nail marks on your skin). "Dried-on sweat can leave your skin feeling itchy and grimy. This can lead to scratching, which can tear skin, making you prone to skin infection," explains Shainhouse. That's a good reason to put the sharp nails away and hit the showers, stat.
If you find any of these signs happening after your workout, or you simply don't shower all time before bed and have simply been fortunate to not get these side effects yet, be warned. It's time to nix that nasty habit for good.