Health News

FYI: You Definitely Still Need to Wash Your Hands When You Use the Bathroom at Home

We all know the drill: After you use the bathroom, you wash your hands. But we’re willing to guess that in the comfort of your own home, you’ve skipped this important post-pee step. (After all, some reports indicate only 66 percent of people suds up in public bathrooms.)

And hey, you might even have some logic behind your no-handwashing-at-home decision: You’re just dealing with your own germs and your partner’s germs, which you’re likely immune to anyway, right?

The answer isn’t so straightforward, says Philip Tierno, Ph.D., a microbiologist at New York University Langone Medical Center.

Here’s why: First, the average adult male is nearly half human, half microbe—a conglomeration of 30 trillion human cells and 39 trillion bacterial cells. On one hand, you are acclimated to these indigenous germ cells, a.k.a. your germ passport. “Your body’s immune system accepts these germs as ‘self’,” Tierno confirms.

Even more: You, your partner and your family likely carry similar microorganisms, since you’re continuously passing your germs back and forth—which means you’re likely acclimated to their germs, too.

But that’s not to say you can skip handwashing at home, or that you’re never going to get sick from your own germs or your partners’. After all, while most of these bacterial cells live in the gut, in the case of a cut or scrape, even your own bacteria can turn on you. Take Staphylococcus aureus, a type of bacterium about a third of healthy people inside their noses, throats, or on their skin. If your immune system is weakened or this bacteria enters your body via a cut or open wound, it could cause an infection—a major case for washing up in the bathroom.

Getty ImagesSyldavia

Another reason you shouldn’t skip washing up at home? You likely don’t spend entire days in the confines of your home. “You’re carrying a myriad of germs by a whole assortment of people, items, and events you encountered throughout your day,” Tierno says.

So by the time you circle around to your own bathroom, your hands are probably an absolute slime bucket full of all of the germs you picked up from elevator buttons, countertops, coins, handrails, doorknobs and other surfaces hundreds of thousands of others also touched. And this time of the year, your daily takeaway could include lots of week-ruiners such as cold and flu viruses.

And that isn’t just a risk for you. When you neglect to wash your dirty paws at home, you risk spreading these germs and the nasty colds that come with them to your family (and anyone else who enters your home). Plus, handwashing—no matter where you are—is ultimately the selfless thing to do: Your colleagues aren’t immune to the germs in your bathroom, so washing your hands protects them, too.

Been awhile? Here’s a little primer.

Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds—about the length of the song Happy Birthday sung twice, Tierno recommends. Make sure to scrub both sides of your hands, in between your fingers, and under your nail beds (because they’re probably pretty gross anyway).

Don’t have soap on hand? That’s no excuse to skip the ritual. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends scrubbing your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Use a dollop the size of a quarter—enough to wet your hands—and to let it work its magic, let it air dry, says Tierno. Now? Time to Amazon hand soap and sanitizer for the bathroom (yes, now).

Source: Read Full Article