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Your Loofah Is Grosser Than You Could Possibly Imagine

If that loofah you got as a gift has been hanging around your shower for a while, then you should probably think twice before you use it. Those scrubbers are like tiny science experiments, just waiting to strike.

The crevices and crags of a loofah that make it feel so good when you scrub your skin are actually what make the sponge such a great breeding ground for diseases. The skin cells that you scrape off during your shower find homes in the nooks and then the wet environment of your shower and bath make them the foundation of a bacterial community. Think about it, you get the loofah wet in the shower and then you hang it in the shower where it never dries, thanks in part to a lack of air circulation. Loofahs, not the plastic thingy, are actually fine to begin with. It's the damp environment that creates the problem.

In these wet conditions, loofahs can breed fungal organisms that lead to fungal infections. And each time you step into the shower and remoisten the loofah and your surroundings, the bacterial organisms are given the chance to grow and multiply. Which means that every time you use it, you are rubbing the previous day's old skin cells and new bacterial growths all over your body—fresh scented body wash aside.

The result of the bacterial growth can lead to annoying but relatively harmless fungal infections. But you can also end up with a case of staph, a serious bacterial infection. Your skin acts as a barrier to protect you against infections, but if you scrub too hard, or have cuts and abrasions, the germs can sneak in.

You're probably better off without scrubbing using a loofah or other scrubby, even a washcloth because they can all trap and breed diseases. But if you can't give it up, then follow these tips to lessen your risk:

Let it dry between uses, open a window or turn on a fan and keep your loofah outside the shower

Switch it up on a regular basis. If it smells weird or you can't remember when you got a new one, it's time to replace it.

Zap it in the microwave, just like a kitchen sponge. This obviously won't work for plastic loofahs, so make sure you know what yours is made out of.

When using your loofah, don't scrub too vigorously to avoid giving yourself small cuts and abrasions for bacteria to find their way in. Also, be sure not to use a loofah after you've shaved, just in case you nick yourself.

Sources: [Cleveland Clinic] [The Huffington Post]

[Image via Getty]

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