Damp towels and wash cloths are germ magnets, warns dermatologist Alok Vij.
"The longer towels stay damp, the longer the yeasts, bacteria, moulds and viruses on them remain alive and stay active,” he explains.
“They can cause an outbreak of toenail fungus, athlete’s foot, jock itch and warts, or cause these skin conditions to spread,” he says. “And dirty towels can certainly cause a flare-up of eczema or atopic dermatitis.”
Dr. Vij offers some helpful tips for adopting healthier towel tactics:
As a general rule, change your bath towel at least once a week and your washcloth a couple times a week
Wash towels more frequently if you’re unwell to avoid reinfection
If the humidity in your house is high, launder more than weekly
You can share towels with a spouse or partner (you share bed sheets, after all) as long as neither of you is unwell or has a skin condition such as warts or eczema
But never share washcloths
Children typically have poor hand hygiene and are more likely to have eczema, so it’s best to give them their own towels
Damp towels are a breeding ground for germs, so hang your wet towel spread out on a towel bar (rather than from a hook) so it can dry thoroughly between uses
If you shower at the gym and your damp towel sits in your gym bag for hours afterward, use a clean towel daily. “Workout towels get pretty disgusting and are full of bacteria,” Dr. Vij says.
What to chooseThick plush cotton towels feel good on your skin but they take a long time to dry and can become stiff and scratchy. Tumble drying will help to keep them soft, but don't use dryer sheets as they reduce the absorbency of the towel and leave a chemical residue that can be irritating to sensitive skin or eczema.
Microfibre towels dry faster than cotton and make good towels for the gym or turbans for wet hair.
So what to do?Bamboo towels are the ones we recommend as they're really good for sensitive skin or eczema.
Bamboo fibre is hypoallergenic, extremely absorbent and as soft as cashmere. It has a natural sheen and softness which feels and drapes like silk but is less expensive and more durable.They feel really luxurious.
Natural Bamboo fibre has a unique bacteriostasis agent that stops odour-producing bacteria from growing and spreading and infecting eczematous skin. It also means your Bamboo towels stay fresh and odour free between washings.