You may be able to jump in and out of the shower in two minutes, and that'll suffice if you're in a rush. But if we're being honest, all the various nooks and crannies on your body take longer than that to scrub. So if you're taking super-speedy showers on a regular basis, you're probably skipping some bacteria-laden places. These five spots in particular tend to get overlooked.
1. Your bellybutton. Thanks to the scientists at the Belly Button Biodiversity Project, we now know that our bellybuttons can harbor a myriad of different bacteria. In fact, researchers found more than 1,400 different bacteria when studying just under 100 people's bellybuttons. The scientists used long cotton swabs to collect bacteria, which was then cultured and allowed to grow in a lab. Unsurprisingly, scientists found that people who washed their bellybuttons with soap regularly had significantly less bacteria than people who didn't. So if you're just glossing over this cute little area, maybe dig a little deeper.
2. Your fingernails. Washing your hands after you go to the bathroom or change a diaper is par for the course (at least we hope). But are you scrubbing underneath your fingernails? A 2007 study done at Aston University in Britain found that harmful bacteria was lurking on 24% of men's nail clippings studied and 15% of the women's clippings. According to lead researcher Anthony Hilton, the worst of the bacteria could cause diarrhea and vomiting. It's especially important to scrub under your fingernails after you go to the bathroom and after touching raw meat, which can contain harmful bacteria.
3. Scalp. A lot of people shampoo their hair and don't pay much attention to their scalp, but the truth is that proper scalp care can help avoid some common problems, like an itchy, flaky scalp. Your scalp is full of sweat glands that need to be properly cleaned; if they're neglected, flakes form. When you're in the shower, scrub your scalp for a full minute or two before rinsing out the shampoo. Also, if shampoo itself irritates your scalp, you can try an organic variety or even just baking soda, which cleanses and clarifies.
4. Bottom of your feet. The bottom of your feet are often overlooked in the shower. After all, the water and soap from your entire body is sliding down there so they must be getting clean, right? Wrong! The best way to get your feet truly soft and clean is to give them a bath all their own. Soak your feet in a tub of warm water and soap, gently scrub with a pumice stone afterwards and massage lotion into your feet when you're done. Only then can put your feet up and relax!
5. Behind your ears. Your mother always told you to wash behind your ears when you were little, and you didn't get what the big deal was. But she was right. Since the back of your ear is somewhat hidden, it can collect bacteria, especially because the sebaceous glands back there secrete a sebum to keep your skin moist. But that secretion also can start smelling rank if not cleaned.
We hope you'll take an extra minute or two next time you shower to make sure you're scrubbing all your body parts properly. So the next time someone wants to swab your bellybutton for bacteria, they'll come up empty.