Do you have a fear of bathing? Do you prefer a mud pit to a shower? If you enjoy having your own brand of smells, you might wonder.
What if you were the dirtiest man on Earth? What kind of bacteria would your body grow? Would you become dehydrated?And would you have to live alone?
In 2014, Amou Haji went on record with the Tehran Times, claiming he hadn’t cleaned himself in nearly 60 years. Amou refuses to bathe because he believes it will cause disease.
Living on the outskirts of his Iranian village, he remains isolated from his neighbors and his family. So if you were to stop bathing, would you have to sleep outside too?
Living without a daily cleaning ritual might keep your loved ones away, but you wouldn’t be alone. Right now, between two and 10 million bacteria are living on your fingertips and elbows.
And if you’ve never exposed these areas to soap and water, there would be even more of these tiny, disease-ridden houseguests living on you. According to a 2009 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 69% of men don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom.
And 80% of illnesses caused by germs are spread by your hands. It’s even more troubling when you consider that every flush can spray germs up to 1.82 m (6 ft).
These microorganisms can live on your body for up to three hours. And if you’re not cleaning your skin, germs aren’t the only thing living on you.
You might develop fungal infections around your nails that could cause them to crack apart and break. Bacteria would build up in the folds of your skin and around your nails, giving you a staph infection.
Since these areas are going unwashed, this bacteria could lead to a fungal infection. You could develop tinea cruris, also known as jock itch, and tinea pedis, or athlete’s foot.
Or maybe you would contract Candida, an infection that spreads to your mouth, throat, gut, and your groin. And if you don’t treat it, it might enter the bloodstream and spread to your organs.
Outside your body, the dirt and grime would be building up on layers of dead skin. Your skin would dehydrate, causing it to flake and itch.
Sebum, the oil on your skin, would build up, causing acne across your face, chest, and back. Your skin could harden and thicken to fight the infection, developing into a condition called hyperkeratosis.
This dense, protective layer would be made of keratin, the same proteins found in your hair. Any exposed skin would turn dark, scaly, and rough, leading to a disorder called dermatitis neglecta.
This inflammatory skin condition is the direct result of you not bathing. And since you’re not dealing with this primary infection, it would lead to secondary infections across your body.
With these toxins constantly invading, your immune system would be compromised. You would need a steady supply of antibiotics to treat these illnesses.
But most doctors only prescribe this medication for two weeks. And since you’re taking so many antibiotics to fight off your chronic infections, your body would build up a resistance to the drugs.
A 2013 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that almost 2 million people in the United States get an antibiotic-resistant infection every year. And at least 23,000 of those people die.
And another noticeable sign of your decay? Your matted hair.
Not washing your hair for weeks may lead to it becoming thicker with more volume. But with the bacteria building up from the moisture on your scalp, after several days your hair might smell like sour milk.
Your hands would show how infectious your skin has become. But it’s the part you don’t see that’s getting worse. That part under your shirt.
In a 2012 study published in PLOS One, researchers found almost 2,368 species of bacteria living inside people’s belly buttons. And 1,500 of those bacteria may be new to science.
Whether you’re an innie or an outie, your dirty belly button would become an ecosystem that would rival the Amazon.
Oh, and we’re assuming that if you’re not washing yourself, you’re not washing your clothes either.
Every stain on the fabric would press against your skin. This constant contact with the dirty fibers would irritate your skin, leading to dermatitis. The rash would leave you red and flaky.
And since you never bathe, your sweat would mix with your dead skin cells and dirt. Soon, your body odor would become obnoxious, keeping the community away from you. So you’d have plenty of time for yourself.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average person showers for eight minutes. So, if you stopped showering, you’d gain an extra two days each year to do whatever you wanted.
And with all that time to yourself, you could check out the content on CuriosityStream, the sponsors of this episode.
But your new hobbies should be the least of your concerns. The way you stink, you wouldn’t be able to hold a job unless it’s remote.
And don’t count on keeping a roommate or a romantic partner. With the self-imposed isolation and the preventable diseases infecting your body, being the dirtiest man on Earth wouldn’t just end your relationships. It might end your life.
And if you stopped cleaning your body, what would happen to your dental hygiene? What if you stopped brushing your teeth?
- “The Untold Truth Of The World’s Dirtiest Man”. 2019. grunge.com.
- “Diogenes Syndrome: Symptoms, Caregiving, And More”. 2021. Healthline.
- “Ablutophobia (Fear Of Bathing): Diagnosis And Treatment”. 2021. Healthline.
- “69 Percent Of Men Don’T Wash Their Hands After Using The Bathroom?!”. Arnold, Amanda. 2020. The Cut.
- “Gross! Hand Hygiene And Other Germy Facts – Tri Living Well”. Tri Living Well. Healthcare, Tri-County. 2018.
- “Shaking hands is disgusting – here’s what else you can do”. 2018. The Conversation.
- “Fungal Nail Infections | Fungal Diseases | CDC”. 2021. cdc.gov.