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Your health spa at home – What you should know about the health effects of bathing

Unter der Haut 07.02.23 8 min. read

Around 60 percent of people in Germany take a shower every day [1].  However, an independent study on the pleasurable and extensive counterpart, bathing,  is still lacking in Germany. This is unfortunate, as a look beyond the borders shows that in countries such as Japan or the United Arab Emirates, bathing is celebrated. Not just regarding bathing at home, but in public places as well. 

In addition to the cultural anchoring as a communal experience, with traditional or even spiritual roots for family, friends or even business partners, there is another aspect at the center of bathing: health.

But let's be honest: When was the last time you took a full bath - and thought about your health? And that without a cough-relieving eucalyptus remedy, which is very likely to creep up your nose again by virtue of your thoughts as you read this line? 

As you can see, the health effects of bathing are clearly overshadowed by pure wellness moments, desired relaxation or pragmatic cold baths, especially in young people. But the combination of wellness and health is much closer than you might have thought.

In this article you will learn more about the positive effects of a full bath. For health and well-being. In the end, you'll even know why you shouldn't place candles too close to the edge of the tub.

But first, let's take a brief look back into the millennia-old history of bathing.

The history of bathing in a nutshell

Immersing one's body in water is a cleansing ritual whose roots in Europe go back to ancient times. From around 800 BC, the ancient Romans and Greeks in particular established bathing as a common practice to cleanse body and soul alike. They were also the ones who built the first large baths in the Mediterranean region. These baths had both a public and a private function, which ultimately led to the development of a bathing culture that offered space for relaxation and community in addition to pure bodily hygiene.

However, from around the 6th century, public bathing underwent a far-reaching ban with the predominance of Christianity. One of the few exceptions in Germany were the warm springs in and around Aachen, which owed their enduring popularity not least to Charlemagne and his desire for daily baths in hot thermal baths. [8]

Among the masses, bathing, as well as the culture of bathing, did not experience its own renaissance until between the 16th and 17th centuries. At this time, more and more baths were built again in public spaces. 

At first, primarily as a sign of social prosperity, bathtubs in private households also marked a new era of structural and technical progress from around the 17th century.

But even a good 200 years of bathing culture later, a warm full bath is sometimes a dangerous affair. For example, in Great Britain during the Victorian era. For it was not uncommon here for the bottom of metal bathtubs to be heated - not the water itself! For this purpose, a gas line fed a small fireplace under the tub - including skin- and life-threatening temperature development.

A danger of injury, which was less to be expected at about the same time in America. Here, doctors particularly advised brief immersion in cold water [9]. Admittedly, with a focus on health; however, on the assumption that the cold water, even without soap, could protect the body from cholera, whooping cough, and even "brain congestion" [9].

Just as the technical-building skills that have gradually made piped water accessible to almost every home in Europe have expanded, so has the knowledge of the true health benefits of bathing. 

From Home Spa to Health Spa – How Bathing Can Strengthen Health and Well-Being

You have probably felt, countless times, that a warm bath strengthens your well-being. But have you ever consciously noticed the positive health effects? And did you know that you can intensify these moments with the right combination of natural ingredients

According to studies, bathing in warm water helps you to: 

... loosen your muscles and relieve tension.

Warm water alone can help you loosen your muscles, relieve tension and muscle pain. Responsible for this is, among other things, the promotion of blood circulation. It is a blessing for your insides and  outsides. 

If you don't want to go straight to bed after the bath, you can also experience a real energy boost thanks to a warm bath. [3; cf. 4]

... cleanse your skin, stimulate the healing processes of your skin and experience a supple skin feeling.

Warm water stimulates blood flow to the skin, allowing more oxygen to be transported to the skin cells. Through the cleansing effect of bathing, you can also help  prevent clogged pores in your skin.

Combined with naturally powerful antioxidants like CBD, a bath can help your skin defend itself against free radicals, one of the most common causes of premature aging, irritation and inflammation. At the same time, CBD, for example, is also valued for reducing eczema and flaking of the skin [12]. 

Additives with alkaline ingredients such as magnesium or nourishing ones such as cocoa offer skin care effects even after the bath is over. The following applies here: a care film of high-quality, lipid-replenishing ingredients prevents excessive water loss via the skin and supports your body's own hydrolipid mantle. [see also 4; 6]

... reduce anti-inflammatory effects.

Basically, a warm bath helps you to loosen coarser dirt. If pores are less clogged by, for example, skin flakes or dirt from micro-injuries of the skin is cleaned by water, you naturally support anti-inflammatory processes on your skin.

However, if you add a bath additive with for example, sage and rosemary to your bath, you may additionally strengthen your skin and muscle areas with anti-inflammatory ingredients. [7]

Endless Self-Care Tip:

How about a small plate of fruits and vegetables as a snack after a relaxing bath? As soon as you focus on anti-inflammatory foods such as peppers, broccoli, sea buckthorn, rosehip, kiwi, citrus fruits, grapes, carrots or tomatoes, you also strengthen your body against inflammation from the inside. You can find a practical overview for your next after bath snack in a list published by German nutritionists [10].

... actively find relaxation and relieve tension.

As soon as warm water envelops your body and your muscles relax, dimmed light, soft music and a relaxing scent help you to let go of all stressful moments and find mental and physical relaxation. 

The body's own support also comes from serotonin and endorphins, which are released when you immerse yourself in warm water. Since endorphins naturally reduce the sensation of pain, among other things, a warm bath can be an alternative to painkillers. The simultaneous cramping effect of the warm water can, for example, strengthen your well-being during menstrual pain. [3]

 ...just take a deep breath – in the truest sense!

The combination of relaxation, improved blood circulation, warmth and a feeling of weightlessness can make breathing easier, especially with bath additives such as eucalyptus or thyme. 

... prepare for a restful sleep.

A warm bath can prepare you mentally and physically for a restful night's sleep. This is by the way true from an early age. The slight temperature differences between a warm bath and a cool bedroom can stimulate your body to release the sleep hormone melatonin, while the mental relaxation will ensure that you fall asleep without brooding. [5]

Incidentally, a small study in 1999 looked at what effect a warm bath had on type 2 diabetes. The results were, in addition to an increased sense of well-being, actually improved blood glucose levels. [7]

Despite all the advantages: When should you avoid taking a bath?

Although bathing undoubtedly has numerous benefits for health and well-being, there are times when you should rather do without a warm full bath: 

  • Bathing when you have a fever: If you bathe (too) warmly when you have a fever, you put additional stress on your body as it tries to regulate its own temperature. In the worst case, you may feel dizzy or nauseous while bathing and the fever may rise even after a short stay. Bathing in water that is too cold may also weaken your circulation too much. Safer ways to gently bring down an excessively high body temperature are, for example, calf wraps or placing cold rags on your forehead.
  • Bathing with open wounds or skin injuries: Germs and pathogens of all kinds easily find an entry point in open wounds. You can therefore risk an infection by bathing. If you have large open wounds or skin injuries, it is advisable to clean the body with the help of a washcloth. Especially after operations, bathing (or showering) is often forbidden by doctors if you cannot protect your surgical wound sufficiently from water. This is because the water from the tap may contain micro-pollutants that do not harm a healthy body, but may cause an infection in a vulnerable state.
  • Bathing with skin rashes or a sunburn: Bathing with skin rashes can aggravate your skin irritation if the affected area reacts to ingredients from bath additives. Depending on the severity of the sunburn, you may find a warm full bath unpleasant at the very least - or cause the skin condition to worsen. As with injuries or rashes, the lack of an intact skin barrier facilitates the penetration of pathogens.
  • Bathing in the case of various pre-existing medical conditions: For example, if you suffer from cardiovascular diseases or if your blood pressure is too low or too high, you should consult your doctor to find out what water temperature and bathing time will be good for you. Otherwise, you risk having circulatory problems or feeling unwell when bathing.

Bathing or showering – Which is better for you?

If you are wondering which is better for you, bathing or showering, the following brief overview can help you decide.

A warm full bath can help you: 

  • reduce stress and tension 
  • increase the feeling of relaxation, 
  • combine a home spa moment, cleansing experience and promote your health,
  • lower your blood pressure,
  • relieve your muscle and joint pain
  • boost the blood circulation in your body and especially in your skin


  • to beautify your skin with the right bath additives or, for example, to clear your respiratory tract.

Whether a full bath can dry out the skin depends, among other things, on the water temperature, the cleansing and bath additive products and the duration of the bath. However, this also applies to a comparable extent to showering. 

Mild cleansing products or bath additives and, if necessary, an anti-inflammatory moisturizer after the bath or shower reduce the risk of your skin's protective layer being attacked and your skin becoming rough and dry.

Another danger that many people do not realize is the candle on the edge of the bathtub. If it tips over into the bathroom, the flame can ignite bath curtains, towels or bath mats. And if your bathtub is made of sanitary acrylic, note that this material can quickly catch fire. 

But even falling into the water can have serious consequences. Because: As soon as your soap foam consists of an appropriate mixture of oils and surfactants, the soap foam may be flammable.

So if you like to take a long bath by candlelight, make sure to place the candle at a safe distance on a solid, non-flammable surface. 

Taking a shower may be right for you if 

  • you are on a time crunch, 
  • your focus is more on cleansing your body

and if

  • you want to cool down quickly or remove fresh sweat from a large area.

By the way, journalist Jennifer Buchholz calculated whether it is always cheaper to take a shower instead of a bath [2]. This came with surprising results! In some cases, the costs are not as high as you might think.

Bathing as a holistic  moment of natural recovery

Bathing can be more than an either-or between hygiene and home spa moment. With the right bath additives and cleansing and care products, you can quickly turn your home spa into your own health spa experience that offers more than just body cleansing combined with a short breather.

If you pay attention to your health condition as well as the bath temperature, duration and additive before the bath, this moment can not only make your skin glow, but also your face: when you get out of the bathtub relaxed, loosened and de-stressed.

    1. Anteil der Deutschen, der im Jahr 2001 und 2006 mindestens einmal täglich geduscht. statista. Abgerufen unte More Info
    2. So günstig ist ein Vollbad wirklich. Jennifer Buchholz. 02.11.2021 More Info
    3. Using heat therapy for pain management. Anne Chandler, Joanne Preece, Sara Lister. 2002 Nov;17(9):40-2. Nursing Standard. More Info
    4. The effect of heat therapy on blood pressure and peripheral vascular function: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Faith K Pizzey et al. Experimental Physiology.. Physiological Society Journal. 2021 Jun;106(6):1317-1334. More Info
    5. Bathing before sleep in the young and in the elderly. Kiyoko Kanda, Yutaka Tochihara & Tadakatsu Ohnaka. European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology. Volume 80, 71–75. 1999. More Info
    6. Bathing in a magnesium-rich Dead Sea salt solution improves skin barrier function, enhances skin hydration, and reduces inflammation in atopic dry skin. Ehrhardt Proksch MD et al.02.02. 2005. International Journal of Dermatology. More Info
    7. Hot-Tub Therapy for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Philip L. Hooper. 16.09.1999. The New England Journal of Medicine. More Info
    8. Zum Baden ging Karl der Große niemals allein. Regine Müller. 13.05.2014. Die Welt. More Info
    9. When Americans Started Bathing. Livia Gershon. 17.06. 2018. JSTOR Daily. More Info
    10. Entzündungshemmende Inhaltsstoffe in Lebensmitteln. Die Ernährungs-Docs. NDR. 15.01.2018. More Info
    11. Effectiveness of hot herbal compress versus topical diclofenac in treating patients with myofascial pain syndrome. Jurairat Boonruab et al. Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine. 2018 Jun 1;9(2):163-167. More Info
    12. Cannabis-Based Products for the Treatment of Skin Inflammatory Diseases: A Timely Review. Ana M. Martins et al. Pharmaceuticals. 2022, 15(2), 210. More Info