|MadSci Network: General Biology|
Dear User, It may or may not be better to wash one's hair and body, but unless you are a violent sociopath, you should consider doing so, especially if you are planning to participate in recreational socializing with the members of opposite sex. Seriously now... Generally, soaps and shampoos are beneficial for normal, i.e. fairly oily skin. Excessive oil clogs the pores and can cause severe acne, which can become a serious problem. As far as hair is concerned, humankind washes since time immemorial (for example, ancient egyptians already had very sophisticated mixtures and ointments used to clean hair and skin). If the skin is dry, and the hair is brittle than perhaps a special, moisturizing shampoo and soap would be useful, but the skin and hair should still be washed regularly. One may argue that prehistoric men and modern tribal people often go for months without taking a bath, without apparent ill effects but then one should remember that we, unlike the prehistoric men, live in conditioned, closed environment and are not exposed to all the violence of Nature. The oil which normally protects the skin and hair is not shed, oxidized or otherwise removed naturally and has to be washed off lest it menaces our health and offends other people. In general, modern soaps and shampoos are designed to clean and refresh skin and hair without causing excessive dryness. Everyone should use his or her own best judgement as to what kind of shampoo or soap to use - and if in doubt, consult a doctor (not a hairdresser). At any given time, there's always a variety of half baked theories dealing with personal hygiene. These theories advocate the benefits of ultra-"naturalism" (e.g. not washing or not wearing clothes) or ultra-cleanliness (such as shaving all the body hair off and powdering the whole body with antiseptic) but one should always take such theories with a grain of soap :) As a parting word, one should consider a giant sloth, the only known (at least to me) case of symbiosis between an algae and a mammal. The sloth grows tiny algae in the hollows of the hair, providing a secluded environment with sunlight and food - and no competition. The algae in turn colors the hair green, which helps to camouflage the animal. As you can see, the words "potatoes in the ears" may mean more than idle warning. Most of the above is a personal opinion, based on personal experience and literature research. Hope it helps. A.G.E.
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