Well, maybe they did tell you all this information about bathing. But my parents didn’t! Why bathe? I’m glad you asked!
If you love bathing as much as I do, you may wonder about the history of bathing. Or maybe not. But don’t you ever think about how some things came to be? I do. And since I do love to bathe, I thought it would be worthwhile to find out all I could about it.
A Little Background History of Bathing
Wikipedia tells us that there are records of bathing during the 2nd millennium BC on the Greek island of Crete. The Ancient Romans were of course recognized for the aqueduct, which provided water accessible to many.
Before this, bathing was limited to proximity to rivers or lakes.
In medieval Japan the first bath house was mentioned in the 1200s. Most bathing did not have gender segregation.
Spanish records show a type of bath that was also a steam treatment. It was related to the religious practices of the time.
Muslim and Jewish culture promoted public bathing in the 1500s, as they were more concerned about cleanliness than other cultures. As above, bathing was connected to religious practices. In our modern times, some Christian denominations practice full body immersion during baptism.
In Europe, bathing was actually related to the development of religion. The Catholic church provided public bathing areas, and even made them separate for males and females. I wonder if this is where the phrase, “Cleanliness is next to godliness”, became popular?
During the Protestant Reformation (1600s) clean clothing was more important than bathing.
Fast forward to the 1800s, where England passed the Public Bath Act, in part inspired by Kitty Wilson during the cholera epidemic. This act encouraged the building of public bathing facilities.
As public works developed, and plumbing entered houses, bathing became commonplace.
Motivation to Bathe
The main historical reason to bathe was because people didn’t want to stink. It was noted that cultures that practiced bathing simply smelled better. In addition to bathing, people began to practice brushing their teeth (with twigs) and washing their hands before eating.
Now we know that bathing, or showering, cleans the skin of bacteria, as well as dirt and oils. If you don’t bathe regularly, not only will you stink, but you will develop itchy patches and dead skin.
We have other motivations today as we know there are many benefits to be gained by bathing. One is therapeutic, from relaxing sore muscles, calming aches, improving your mood, and helping you sleep. It can boost your immune system to fight cold and flu symptoms.
In fact a Japanese study reported in the National Institute of Health titled Physical and Mental Effects of Bathing: A Randomized Intervention Study makes some interesting conclusions. It states that bathing improves mental and physical health!
Once you know these facts about all the benefits, I wonder why you wouldn’t want to bathe?
Here’s a fun video made for children but it gets the point across.
Create Your Own Spa
I love going to a spa that I know of in Desert Hot Springs. I usually get a massage and sit in the natural hot pools. But you can create your own spa-like experience at home. This will lead to a more relaxing experience, and probably increase your mental outlook.
Suggestions vary about what to use for your bath should you desire an enhanced experience, but the following are a place to start.
- Clean, uncluttered bathroom.
- Sufficient lighting; safety first but you may want lights not as bright.
- Soft relaxing music.
- Bath water temperature moderate; not too hot; about 98 – 100 degrees.
- Your choice of a fragrance or none at all.
- Your choice of a bath additive like a bath bomb or bubble bath.
- A scrubby or loofah.
- Candles? I don’t use candles simply because of the safety factor, but if you are confident in your safe use of them, then they do make for a nice ambiance.
Spend no more than 15 minutes in the tub. Any longer can affect your blood pressure and cause (temporary) wrinkly skin. Once you get out, pat yourself dry and add some moisturizing lotion to your body.
Some Comparisons of Bathing Habits in Different Countries
Brazilians take the most showers! Surveys claim on the average they take two showers a day. The rest of the world averages about five showers per week. However, the English and Americans prefer showers compared to Brazil.
Hot springs are more popular in Japan than in other countries. In China, public group bathing is still practiced. More women than men shower in the United Kingdom.
Be Aware of Your Loved One
Some research states that mental illness can impact a person being able to bathe. There may be reasons like depression or phobias that come into play. If your loved one isn’t maintaining regular hygiene, you may want to discuss this and have them see a mental health professional.
The elderly, as they age, may not bathe as often as they once did. This may be due simply to ease of access, or fears of falling or slipping. Make sure their bathroom is fully equipped to make bathing safe and easy for them.
I wrote an article called How To Be Safe in the Bathtub which provides some advice that might be helpful. Making the bathing experience as inviting as possible may help in motivating our loved one to bathe more.
Have I provided you with some interesting information? Do you have any questions? Or do you have interesting information to provide? Please leave your comments below.