Bath sponges are very useful tools which have been used for over a hundred years. Some even claim the old Egyptians used them first. You can use bath sponges not only for baths but also as a way to exfoliate your skin.
However, if you use your bath sponge for too long, it can turn into a cesspool of bacteria. When you shower, your own bacteria can attach to the loofah, and remain stuck there. Given that showers are damp places, they are a wonderful environment for multiplication of bacteria, and you have the loofah sitting there for who knows how long.
How often should you replace your loofah? That is a very good question. If you read on, you will find out the answer and also learn a lot of important things about loofahs that you did not know before.
Loofah, which can also be spelled “luffa”, is actually a vegetable from the Cucurbitaceae family. Loofah is a type of gourd, alongside pumpkin and squash. Gourd originates from Asia, but it was also spread throughout Africa.
Nowadays, people mostly use it as sponges, but previously gourd was also used for insulation.
An Environment Perfect for Bacteria
Loofahs are porous, which means they have many holes and they absorb liquids very well. Be that as it may, they not only hold on to water, but they also keep many dead skin cells you scrub off. That dead skin gets stuck in the holes of your loofah sponge. According to dermatologists, this makes for a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
The loofah is not wet just while you are showering. It stays wet and is never able to completely dry off on its own. People often leave it in the bath, or on the bath, or some other wet surface. In other words, it is heaven for bacteria.
Sometimes loofahs are ridden with fungal organisms which can infect your skin. That is the reason why you should maintain the hygiene of your loofahs, clean them, dry them, and be gentle when scrubbing. You should not use bath sponges for too long either. Replace them when they are used up.
Can Loofahs Lead to Disease?
If you use your loofah too much and do not care for its hygiene, you can definitely get a skin infection. This is even more likely to occur if you have some wounds or cuts which are open and an easy target for bacteria.
Using a loofah can also damage the barrier your skin has, which is there to protect you against harmful influences. Some dermatologists swear by this and they also claim you are essentially just spreading the dirt you scrubbed off the previous day when you use a bath sponge. They have plenty of reasons to be against everyday use of loofahs.
The most common infections caused by using a loofah are Staphylococcal infections. This is a group of bacteria with over 30 types. The popular term for them is staph. They can cause many types of infections, but the most prevalent type is skin infections. These skin infections resemble boils and pimples. They cause redness of the skin, but they can also get swollen and sometimes hurt. They can also contain pus.
Another infection which can be caused by loofah use is folliculitis, an infection of hair follicles. Folliculitis causes tenderness and itching of the skin. It looks like a cluster of tiny red bumps next to the hair follicles. These symptoms usually pass within days.
How to Maintain Loofah Hygiene
Besides warning us of the negative sides of bath sponge use, dermatologists have also provided some tips on how to properly use them and maintain their hygiene. Here are the tips:
- Dry it every day – After each use, rinse off your loofah thoroughly. Then shake it to expunge all the water. Finally, put it in a cool place to dry out completely. It can hang anywhere, just not the shower or the tub.
- Clean it every week – Clean your loofah once per week, at the very least, no matter the type you use. You should clean it by soaking it in a weakened bleach solution. It should stay in the solution for about five minutes. After that, rinse it well with water.
- Avoid using it on your face or genitalia – These areas are more prone to infection because they are sensitive. Scrubbing them is not a good idea, because it can only cause a rash. Just use soap and water and gently clean these parts.
- Refrain from using bath sponges after you shaved – Shaving can leave many cuts. Even if they are tiny and not visible, the bacteria will “see” them, use the opportunity and, cause an infection. Hold on with using the loofah for at least several days after you shaved your legs.
- Do not overuse loofahs – According to dermatologists, a bath sponge should not be used more than twice a week so as not to damage the skin’s protective barrier.
- Replace your bath sponges regularly – How often should you replace your loofah? Here is your answer. A natural loofah should be replaced at least once a month if not sooner than that. Plastic loofahs can be used for a period of up to two months. Besides relying on these timestamps, you can also replace your loofah as soon as it gets moldy or green. You should also get a new one if it starts to have an unpleasant odor.
To Sponge or Not to Sponge?
Nobody can deny that loofahs are useful, both in the kitchen and the bathroom. However, if you read the article, you now know the worst outcomes which can come from using these bath sponges negligently.
It does not necessarily mean that they are bad, but you should not use them all the time. Maybe do it two to three times a week to scrub the dead skin from your pores. Most importantly, remember to keep your loofah clean and replace it on time.