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Germs are everywhere

Germs are everywhere
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In general, the more things that you touch on a daily or regular basis, the higher the risk you’ll also pick up bacteria and viruses, says Kristine Arthur, MD. “It is nice to share, but not ideal to share germs,” she says. Although it’s sometimes inevitable to transfer germs, especially if you live with other people, it’s still possible to stay healthy and limit their spread if you take some precautions, according to Dr Arthur. Keeping you and your friends or family free from excess germs starts with not sharing the following items that germ experts definitely wouldn’t.

You should also make sure you wash your hands immediately after touching these things. 

Pens

Pens
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The clipboard pen is one of the filthiest items in your doctor’s office. Researchers found the clipboard pen has more than 46,000 times more germs than an average toilet seat. That’s why Dr Arthur doesn’t share or borrow pens provided in public places, especially in your doctor’s office. “Everyone is touching them, and in a place where people are sick they are even more likely to have bacteria or viruses on them,” she says. “Bring your own pen for filling out forms.”

Learn more about how to decrease your chances of catching a virus. 

Silverware and straws

Silverware and straws
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Taking a bite or sip of someone else’s meal or drink seems like no big deal – but not so fast. Make sure you aren’t using their straws, silverware, or cup, which are some things Dr Arthur won’t share. What stops her from sharing these items is that they likely have saliva on them. “It is a good general rule to follow because even if you or another family member feel fine right now, you may be at the early stages of a cold or flu and not realise you are contagious yet,” she says.

Fast-food trays

Fast-food trays
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Once your number is up, and your feast of fries and burgers is ready, you might be quick to grab a tray and chow down. You’re actually getting more than your order if you use the plastic trays at fast-food restaurants. “Not only are they used by everyone, but they are typically only wiped down with a cloth and not thoroughly cleaned with hot water and soap,” Dr Arthur says. “If you do get your food on them, take it off and put the tray back; never set your food directly on it.”

Makeup and makeup brushes

Makeup and makeup brushes
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Open makeup containers invite bacteria growth. Add in sharing makeup with a friend, and you’re also adding more opportunity for viruses to transfer over, says Julia Blank, MD, a family medicine physician. Sharing eye makeup could result in conjunctivitis while sharing lip products could make you susceptible to mono, herpes and strep, according to Dr Blank. That’s why you should replace your cosmetics frequently and never borrow things like liquid eyeliner, mascara or lipstick.

Here are 7 ways to avoid makeup allergies. 

Phones

Phones
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Try not to share a mobile phone or a landline phone as much as possible, Dr Arthur says. Phones come in close contact with the face and mouth. If sharing is necessary, put the phone on speaker, so there’s no skin-to-skin contact.

This is why your phone screen is much filthier than you thought. 

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Earbuds

Earbuds
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Borrowing headsets seem innocent enough, but you really shouldn’t share earbuds with anyone. Although earwax is natural ear protection, earphones trap the once-innocent bacteria in the wax. Any wax building up on earphones traps and grows this bacteria, which could lead to infections. Regularly clean your earbuds and put your phone on speaker to share tunes with a friend.

These are the dirtiest surfaces in 12 places you visit all the time. 

Towels

Towels
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Towels welcome bacteria since they are typically damp and absorbent, which is why you shouldn’t share them, according to Dr Arthur. Some bacteria can survive for hours on wet surfaces, and fungus loves damp towels, Dr Blank adds. It doesn’t help that people also usually wash their hands incorrectly, Dr Blank says, leaving bacteria on the skin. That bacteria transfers to the hand towel and ultimately the next person who dries their hands. Stop this cycle in its tracks, especially if you have guests over, and opt for fancy paper hand towels that are more sanitary, Dr Arthur says. No one wants to share a damp, used towel.

Here are 22 more bathroom mistakes you never knew you made. 

Razors

Razors
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Nicking yourself in the shower is more common than not, hence why Dr Arthur and Dr Blank both say not to share these blades. Even borrowing someone’s razor for a quick touch up could be bad. Not only can sharing razors spread bacteria, it could also spread more serious blood-borne pathogens like hepatitis B and C, Dr Arthur and Dr Blank say.

This is why you need to worry about hand sanitiser. 

Toothbrushes

Toothbrushes
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The human mouth is a wonderful breeding ground for all sorts of bacteria and viruses, according to Dr Blank. That’s why she doesn’t share her toothbrush. “Infectious microorganisms get deposited on wet toothbrush bristles, and can be transmitted to anyone who uses that toothbrush,” Dr Blank says. The worst-case scenario? Someone with a weak immune system uses a contaminated toothbrush and develops a potentially life-threatening infection, such as meningitis, according to Dr Blank.

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Please be advised that due to the current lockdown in the Philippines, Reader’s Digest magazine May issue will not be available at its regular on-sale date to our subscribers or through our retail channels in that region. We hope to have the issues available in early June, but this is dependent on when the lockdown restrictions are lifted. We sincerely apologise for this inconvenience. Thank you and stay safe!
– The Reader’s Digest team