Sunday, October 16, 2011

9 Things You Shouldn't Share: Tips 5-9

When sharing leads to sneezing, itching, or infection. By Jean Weiss for MSN Health & Fitness

We all know we’re supposed to do it. In fact, sharing is an important social skill that may lead to a more successful life. And yet it turns out there are a few things we shouldn’t share.

Here’s tips 5-9 of germ-laden items you’d best keep to yourself.

5. Pens
You’ve met an interesting colleague at a conference and are exchanging contact info. Should you borrow the pen she offers from her purse? Personal pens are rife with germs, because most people put them in their mouths, Gerba says. “You can pick up respiratory viruses, mouth infections—a lot can be spread by the mouth,” he says. Gerba’s studies have shown that teenagers’ pens carry the most bacteria.

Surprisingly, pens at checkout lines in stores were less germy. This is probably because they are wiped down daily and people are less likely to put the pens in their mouths when standing at the cash register. Gerba suggests you carry your own pen, or have a disinfectant wipe available to clean a pen before use.

6. Cell Phones
Now you have a great excuse for why you didn’t call home to check in; just say your phone battery died and you didn’t want to get sick from borrowing a friend’s phone. Cell phones are covered with contaminants, and people rarely, if ever, clean them. Gerba’s studies have found MRSA and other bacteria, along with influenza viruses, on cell phones.

Women’s cell phones are dirtier than men’s, he’s found. “We did notice that women’s phones tend to be germier,” he says, guessing that this could be due to germs carried in makeup, or due to the fact that women as a whole have more colds per year than men. “Statistically, women have close to three colds each per year, if they have children in the household, whereas men have closer to 1.5 colds per year,” Gerba says. (How many colds do kids have per year?) When borrowing a phone, wipe it down with a disinfecting cloth and wash your hands after.

7. Razors
Razors are also on the no-share list. Shaving creates nicks and cuts, whether you see them or not, and blood on someone’s razor can be transferred to your body when you shave. “Any time you have a chance of cutting the skin, you have to be careful,” Gerba says. So if you are visiting friends or family and you forgot your razor, don’t use the one that’s in their shower. Don’t even use your partner’s razor. “I would never share a razor with anybody,” Gerba says. “Blood-borne diseases are serious. A person could be a carrier of a disease such as hepatitis B all your life and not even know it.”

8. Makeup
When you are shopping and need to freshen your face or moisten your lips, stick with your own tubes of makeup rather than dipping into samples at a store’s makeup counter. A two-year study found high levels of bacteria in the majority of skin, eye and lip makeup samples at drug and department stores. Contaminants found ranged from staph bacteria to E. coli. The makeup was tested on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. More contaminants were found on Sundays, compared with Fridays. So, if you find yourself out with a desperate need for color, avoid lipstick and eye makeup and dip in weekdays only for other items, once the bacteria have started to die off after heavy weekend traffic. 
9. TV Remotes
If you’re kicking back in a hotel room, or watching basketball at a neighbor’s house, slip out a disinfectant wipe before using the remote. TV remotes are rarely cleaned and carry numerous germs, Gerba says. “They are loaded with germs,” he says. “They are often the germiest object we find in a house, and we’ve found some pretty dirty ones in hotel rooms, too.” TV remotes are an easy germ target because people get lazy washing their hands after going to the bathroom. Gerba has found viruses and E. coli and other bacteria on TV remotes in hotel rooms, homes, hospital rooms and nursing homes.


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