I love a good loofah as much as the next girl. However, if not properly cleaned or stored, your self-care companion could turn into a breeding ground for bacteria.
The science behind it
A study by the Journal Of Clinical Microbiology outlined the myriad ways in which cucumber fiber and even plastic loofahs are particularly receptive environments in which certain molds, bacteria, and yeast develop, thrive, and cultivate.
Scrubbing your skin with said loofahs allows for those dead skin cells to collect exponentially in the netting and fibers. This coupled with the warm moist environment post-shower time presents a perfect breeding ground for bacteria to grow and multiply.
J. Matthew Knight, M.D., supports this claim adding, “These sponges have gained immense popularity as exfoliative beauty aids designed to invigorate the human skin. As a natural product, however, loofah sponges play host to a variety of bacterial species.”
The dermatologist with Knight Dermatology elaborates: “Then, you put them in this environment in the shower that’s warm and moist and gross, and it’s a setup for bacteria, yeast, and mold to grow in the loofah.”
So what happens when this mold and bacteria have the perfect environment to grow and multiply? Where does the bacteria go from there? Dr. Jessica Krant, M.D., founder of Art of Dermatology LLC and a board-certified New York City dermatologist warns against using these tainted loofahs claiming to cleanse any open wounds, nicks or scabs could inevitably lead to a nasty staph infection.
What is a staph infection you may be wondering?
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified anatomic pathologist specializing in the fields of experimental and molecular pathology. More on how to get into that lucrative line of work here. She goes into detail in a recent interview featured in MedicineNet about what a staph infection actually entails and what to look out for:
“Staphylococcus (sometimes called “staph”) is a group of bacteria that can cause a multitude of diseases. Staph infections may cause disease due to direct infection or due to the production of toxins by the bacteria. Symptoms and signs of a localized staph infection include a collection of pus, such as a boil, furuncle, or abscess. The area is typically tender or painful and may be reddened and swollen.”
So how can you avoid infection and keep your beloved loofah clean?
There are a few tips and tricks to sidestep a staph infection I will outline for you next:
- Replace your loofah every three weeks and if it’s plastic every two months: Do you notice a strange odor? Is your loofah not the same hot pink vibrant sponge it once was? Well, those are two clear cut signs you need to take a trip to Bed Bath and Beyond to pick out a brand new scrubber.
- Keep your loofah dry and out of the shower when finished bathing: This step is easy. After your daily shower to decompress from the day just take out your loofah and hang it somewhere dry to air out. This will prevent any organisms from growing since you took away the ideal moist environment they tend to thrive in.
- Clean your loofah: If you have a cucumber or sea sponge style loofah you can destabilize any organisms from multiplying by microwaving the sponge for 20 seconds. If you have a plastic loofah just soak that bad boy in a five percent bleach solution to discourage pesky mold. Voila, no danger of a staph infection on my legs! The dermatologist also recommended replacing your loofah every two months to be on the safe side.
I hope this deep dive into the dangers of using old loofahs has been eye-opening or at the very least encouraged you to take a trip to your local boutique to pick up a new exfoliator.