New Research Suggests Six Steps for Heathly Holiday Shopping

With Thanksgiving over and Black Friday behind us the holiday shopping season is officially in full swing, and while it is always fun to both give and receive at this time of year the one thing we can all agree that we don’t need to be exchanging is germs. Yes, unfortunately while this may be best shopping season of the year it is also the time when many of us succumb to seasonal colds, the flu and any number of other nasty bugs that the change in seasons and therefore change in whether bring. While we are sure that our readers are the considerate type who would not go out in a very public place, like say a mall, when sick and contagious; there are unfortunately those less considerate among us who will and here are a six simple steps to make sure your next shopping trip doesn’t end with you bringing home a nasty bug:

1. Keep your hands to yourself –

Avoid using hand rails on stairs or escalators whenever possible. Studies done by the University of Arizona Environmental Microbiology Department found all manner of nasty bacteria including flora responsible for respiratory illness all over escalator hand rails. Why? Because most people cough into their hands to be polite, problem is they then grab hold of a handrail and their germs find a new home. When it is necessary to use handrails in the mall remember to immediately disinfect with hand sanitizer or a quick trip to the rest room before you have a chance to absentmindedly touch your face.

2. Beware the bathroom sink –

And while we are on the topic of rest rooms, here is a fun little fact you may not have known: the filthiest part of the restroom that your hand will come in contact with isn’t the door knob or even the toilet handle but rather the sink. This is because people touch the sink faucet or handles before washing their hands and since sinks are moist this allows various bacteria and germs to survive longer then they would on other surfaces. Always wash your hands thoroughly, using plenty of soap and lathering for at least 20 seconds. When done remember to use a paper towel to turn off the faucet so that you don’t undo all that scrubbing.

3. Clean your own table top –

While it may seem a little overly paranoid, and you may get a few people mistaking your for an OCD sufferer, it will be worth your while to bring your own disinfectant wipes to wipe off that food court table before sitting down for a mid-shopping snack. The reason for this is those cloths that food service workers use to clean the table in between each sitting can often do more harm then good, especially at a busy time of year like the holidays, because if the cloth is not cleaned frequently it can end up transferring germs from one table to another. We know, you weren’t planning on eating right off the table, that’s what plates are for; but next time you sit down to a meal take note of how many times your hands touch that table top.

4. Knuckle up at the ATM –

Chinese researchers tested 38 ATMs in downtown Taipei and found that on average each ATM key was home to around 1,200 germs. So either make sure to disinfect after each time your punch in your pin or at least use your knuckles to hit the keys rather than your finger tips. This will help because you are far less likely to touch your face, or worse yet your mouth, with your knuckles than you are with your fingers.

5. Cover up if you plan on trying on –

“After people try on clothing, skin cells and perspiration can accumulate on the inside, both can serve as food for bacterial growth” says Philip Tierno Director of Clinical Microbiology and Immunology at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. The best way to avoid a nasty bacterial infection is to wear underwear that offers maximum protection or better yet a base layer if you plan on trying things on, and please remember to properly cover up any cuts or scrapes as open wounds are the best point of entry for an infection. Also, if you hadn’t already guessed, doctors recommend washing any new purchases before you wear them, because who knows if anyone tried it on before you bought it.

6. Makeup samples might not be worth it –

A medical study conducted back in 2005 found that between 67% and 100% of makeup-counter testers were contaminated with bacteria such as staph, strep, E. coli and worse of all the super-bug MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). So if you insist on seeing how that shade of eyeliner or lipstick looks on you, we suggest settling for the back of your hand rather then letting any of these nasty little guys near your face. Most doctors will tell you that the “buy then try” method is the only surefire way to be certain there is no contaminating germs. Returning makeup may be a hassle, but anyone whose ever had one will tell you that it doesn’t even hold a candle to a bad staph infection.

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