You might adore your little colorful loofah puff that hangs daintily from your shower handle, but the beauty product hides a dark secret; it’s full of bacteria that grow with each use. Even using a loofah once soils it and creates a cesspool that gets worse and worse. No matter if you take a hot or cold shower, your loofah promotes the growth of bacteria and runs the risk of giving you some nasty skin infections. Here are three reasons why doctors and dermatologists want you to throw out your loofahs.
Loofahs get clogged with bacteria
Loofahs are porous and full of folds and bends, and bacteria tend to crop up and accumulate with each use. According to Melissa Piliang, MD and dermatologist of Cleveland Clinic, “When people use a loofah to scrub off dead skin cells, those cells become lodged in the nooks and crannies…and that sets the stage for a bacterial breeding ground.” Not only that, but those bacteria never go away, even if you wash the loofah in hot water. The more you use it, the more bacteria and dead cells you put back on your skin, which seep into your pores and cause a bacterial buildup.
Loofahs never dry completely
Since loofahs have so many folds and a tight core, they retain more moisture than you think and remain damp even if you haven’t used them in days. As a result, this constant wet environment cultivates bacteria and mold, which fester each time you use one. According to an article published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, “Hydration at this time could well introduce and even promote the growth of environmentally derived gram-negative and gram-positive (Bacillus) bacterial species, which embed in the cellulose fibers.” This means that your loofahs will always generate bacteria that subsist in damp conditions, and those bacteria will transfer to your skin when you use it.
Loofahs can cause bacterial infections
As aforementioned, loofahs become clogged with bacteria each time you use them, and that same bacteria can enter your pores and cause infections. Folliculitis, staphylococcal infection, impetigo, and cellulitis are caused by a dirty loofah that remains damp. Soap and hot water don’t mitigate things either; in fact, they make things worse. According to the website Treatment OK!, “Loofahs have caused folliculitis, an infection of the hair follicle, with the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa…wet loofah sponges breed these types of bacteria, which hide within the rough fibers.” You also increase your risk of getting these bacteria into your pores if you vigorously scratch your skin with a loofah.
Instead of a loofah, try using a gentle brush, sponge, or even a washcloth.
Bottone, E. J., Perez, A. A., & Oeser, J. L. (1994). Loofah sponges as reservoirs and vehicles in the transmission of potentially pathogenic bacterial species to human skin. Journal of clinical microbiology, 32(2), 469-72.