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May 28, 2014 at 10:40 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Healthy Life Hacks For Your Bathroom Routine

By Jeffrey VanWingen M.D. More Blogs by This Author

Thank God, the school year is almost over.

My son and I stood outside the bathroom door this morning waiting for my daughter to finish her routine. While my son was shouting and impatiently pounding on the door, I thought about how our bathroom routines are part of the rhythm of our lives. After all, we are there throughout the day. At the same time, most of us would rather be elsewhere on our own terms than completing the necessities of the day.

To this end, (and at the risk of challenging established routines) I've compiled some health tips for the bathroom routine that I discuss with my patients:

TIP: Like brushing your hair and teeth - do this every day. SPF prevents premature aging and wrinkles, plus, you know - SKIN CANCER. No one wants that.

Another measure that I recommend in the bathroom prevents injury that can occur insidiously throughout the day-- moisturizer with SPF.  Studies have shown that daily SPF moisturizer prevents skin damage from casual sun exposure.  This prevents skin cancer and has been shown to significantly reduce wrinkles.  For more information, see my past blog on wrinkles

TIP: No one's watching (or cares), guys. Sitting to pee at night can prevent a major accident.

A reflex exists when men push out urine and an important nerve called the vagus can be stimulated. This nerve regulates a number of functions, one of which is the tension on blood vessels. Stimulating the vagus can cause rapid and profound drops in blood pressure. This can bring on the fainting condition known as micturition syncope. Sleepiness increases this potential. I've seen some nasty injuries caused by fainting in the close quarters of the bathroom with the toilet and sharp-cornered counter tops.

TIP: They aren't just for old people. Add treads on slippery surfaces and consider a grab bar.

Other injuries that commonly occur in the bathroom are slips and falls.  The bathroom is a slippery place and we are often distracted by sleepiness or rushed to make up for the extra snooze pushed on the alarm clock.  Grip stickers on the tub or shower floor can prevent slipping.  Grab bars in strategic locations can also prevent falls if stability is an issue.

TIP: Picture good teeth. Now picture bad ones. Upgrade your dental beauty regimen. Invest in a good electric toothbrush - and ACTUALLY start flossing (cheating here hurts no one but you)!

Daily routines bathroom routines also involve dental care in large part.  If you don't floss regularly, it would be a good idea to start.  Don't beat yourself up though - 80% of people reportedly do not floss.  Flossing regularly brings numerous good things by preventing bad breath, unhealthy gums and even heart disease.  Choice of toothbrush can also improve your dental health. Electric toothbrushes, particularly the Sonicare has been shown to reduce plaque build up and treat/prevent periodontal disease. A study sponsored by the National Institute of Health showed that the Sonicare was far superior to standard toothbrushes. (1)

TIP: Find a new escape (or just sit and read with your pants on - no one need know). Minimize time and excessive straining on the toilet to avoid the scourge of hemorrhoids.

I once saw a patient who lamented that the toilet was the only place he found privacy at home and work. A newspaper accompanied him as his bowels moved and for a few moments he found peace. Unfortunately, he had developed some significant hemorrhoids as a result of this practice. Hemorrhoids are varicose veins that can balloon out with the pressure of spending too much time in dependent positions, especially with extra pressure brought on by straining.  Sometimes a stool softener is needed to help prevent straining.

TIP: Most of our bathrooms are bacterial playgrounds waiting to tag us with illness. Uh, gross! Keep cleaning supplies in the bathroom for convenience. Regularly disinfect surfaces and toss old toothbrushes!

While tooth brushes help, they can also harbor bacteria and viruses that can be re-introduced to your body. Bacteria such as e. coli can also harbor around the toilet and mold can easily grow around tubs and showers.

TIP: Your skin hates your hair care products. Protect your skin from conditioner and hair product exposure to prevent acne outbreaks.

Conditioner helps to detangle and give body to our hair. Gel and hair spray helps to keep it where we want it. The properties of these products are to fill in tiny baps and act as a glue.  When these agents are left to the pores on our face and shoulders, plugging can ensue. This can lead to acne.

Don't get stuck in a rut with your bathroom routines - give them a check-up to improve your health!


1. Robinson; Journal of Clinical Dentistry 1997; 8:4-9

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