Tag Archives: bacteria

6 Ways Antibacterial Soap Does More Harm than Good

We’ve all reached for the soap labeled ‘antibacterial’ over the boring, normal-looking one thinking we were doing ourselves and our families the service of cleaner hands and reduced risk of sickness. Oops! It turns out our good intentions weren’t really doing that much good. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons antibacterial soap is better left on the store shelves:

  1. It directly contributes to antibacterial resistance. One of the most threatening global medical concerns of our time is that germs are starting to develop resistance against antibiotics and antibacterial products. This leads to more deaths from infections that can no longer be stopped by modern medicine.
  2. Its active ingredient is an endocrine disruptor. The majority of antibacterial soaps and sanitizers contain the chemical triclosan which, according to studies, can actually get into the bloodstream and interfere with the thyroid hormone. This can potentially contribute to such issues as infertility, obesity or even cancer.
  3. It has been linked to higher risk of childhood allergies. Research suggests that children exposed to triclosan may develop immune system problems such as peanut or hay fever allergies due to reduced bacteria exposure.
  4. Triclosan + chlorinated water = danger! When chlorinated water mixes with triclosan it forms chloroform. The EPA has deemed chloroform as a potential carcinogenic substance. So, if you’re washing your hands with soap containing triclosan in chlorine-treated water, small amounts of chloroform could be compounding.
  5. It is simply no more effective than regular soap. Over 4 decades of FDA research and numerous studies prove regular soap to be just as effective as antibacterial soap when it comes to the prevention of infection and illness.

So, all in all, why use a product that may cause unwanted and potentially dangerous issues? Perhaps we should get back to the basics: good old fashioned boring soap and water will more than do the trick! Thanks for visiting DocChat! We hope you check back again soon.

Handwashing – First Line Defense Against Contagions

Aside from getting your annual flu shot, thorough handwashing is the gold standard in flu prevention. It is also your best line of defense against other contagious illnesses like stomach bugs, colds, infections and much more. Regular handwashing among healthcare workers can greatly reduce the number of serious (and deadly) healthcare associated infections in patients. Those who make a practice of regular handwashing are not only helping themselves by removing dirt and contagions from their paws, but also helping prevent the spread of those germs to others.

Let’s take a closer look at how, where and when to get your handwashing on…

When to Wash Up?

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that everyone make a habit of handwashing during the following situations:

  • Before, during and after preparing food (especially meat)
  • Before eating
  • Before and after assisting a sick person in a home or clinical setting
  • Every time you use the washroom (this one should be a no brainer!)
  • After changing a diaper or helping a child use the washroom
  • Before and after tending to a wound
  • After touching an animal or handling a pet’s food, toys or waste
  • After handling garbage
  • After you sneeze, blow your nose or cough
  • Whenever your hands are visibly dirty
  • After being anywhere public where you could have come in contact with contagions

Am I Doing it Right?

Sometimes we may just flick our hands under running water after blowing our noses or chopping veggies, thinking there is no need for a deep wash every time. This is not the attitude to have. The best way to remove germs on your hands is to wet them, lather the front and backs of your hands thoroughly with soap and wash for at least 20 seconds under warm running water every time you wash them.

What Kind of Soap to Use?

Contrary to popular belief, “antibacterial” soap offers no clear advantages over standard soap, and may even have some potentially dangerous disadvantages. Liquid soap may have a leg up when it comes to hygiene, especially in a public area where a bar of soap has been frequently handled by the public. In your own home, a mild bar or liquid soap will both do the job.

What About Hand Sanitizer?

Studies have proven thorough handwashing with soap and warm water to be more effective at deep cleaning than using hand sanitizer, however sanitizer is a close second if you aren’t around any sinks. If running water and soap isn’t accessible, be sure to choose hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol.

Try to Find a Balance

Having said all this, it is important not to let yourself become too focused on handwashing and germs to the point you find yourself washing your hands over-zealously, as that can lead to mental health hurdles as well as contact dermatitis. Just stick to the times and method we’ve outlined in our post, and you should be adequately protected.

We’ll be testing you on all these handwashing tidbits in the future, so stay tuned for a handwashing quiz coming up soon! Thanks for visiting DocChat!




Is Your Eye Makeup Dangerous?

Did you know all those mascaras you’ve been accumulating in your makeup bag can be hazardous to your health? Various dangerous bacteria thrive in those little tubes if they are kept and used for too long. There are other reported health risks associated with eye make up as well, such as controversial ingredients that can easily irritate the eye. Let’s take a closer look:

What’s In Your Mascara?

Mascara dates back to the Ancient Egyptians who used a mixture containing charcoal and crocodile excrement. Eww! While there may not be any poo in our modernized mascaras, many do contain a harsh cocktail of unpronounceable ingredients such as propylene glycol, which has been known to cause skin irritations in those with sensitive skin. Many mascaras also contain aluminum powder, a potentially hazardous neurotoxin that remains on the radars of different skin safety groups such as the EWG.

How Can Old Mascara Hurt Your Health?

Old mascara tubes are the front-running culprits when it comes to make up danger. Most people don’t even notice the expiry dates on their mascaras, often keeping and using them months (or even years!) after they should have been disposed of. Big deal, right? It actually is a big deal. These little tubes provide the perfect moist little microcosm for harmful bacteria to flourish, especially since every time you use that little wand, more and more bacteria make their way back into the tube. Also, being that the eye is one of the most delicate areas of the body, its thin tissue can easily tear, allowing these infectious bacteria easy passage.

What Kind of Harmful Bacteria Live In Mascara Tubes?

Old mascara tubes can easily accumulate harmful little crawlies like pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can causes skin irritation, inflammation or potentially even sepsis! An even worse offender, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (more commonly known as MRSA), has also been found in the tiny tubes. MRSA is known for rapidly progressing, often untreatable (and potentially deadly) infections, Eeek!

How Long Can You Safely Keep Eye Makeup?

It is recommended you throw out and replace your mascara and liquid eyeliner approximately every three months. Pencil eyeliner and cream eye shadow are usually safe for about a year. Powder eye shadow has a longer safety shelf life, with the potential to safely last up to 2 years if you keep your eyeshadow applicators clean and haven’t shared it or used it while you’ve had an eye infection. However, these rules are not hard and fast – if in doubt, throw it out!

Keep an eye out for some make-up safety tips next! Thanks for visiting DocChat!

Which Public Places Are The Dirtiest?


Bacteria and germs are everywhere, even on our bodies. Most of them aren’t harmful, but it is important to practice good public hygiene so you don’t expose yourself to unnecessary, potentially harmful pathogens. Sometimes it is easy to become complacent while going about our daily business but little precautions can go a long way in preventing illness. Let’s take a look at some of the germiest places we regularly frequent:

  1. Gas stations – In one study by researchers at the University of Arizona, 71% of sampled gas pump handles were contaminated with dangerous microbes that could lead to illness. The gas station is a spot most of us don’t even think twice about while we go about our daily errands – it pays to wash up well after any public outing.
  2. Hospitals and clinics – Higher than normal numbers of sick people are constantly filtering in and out of hospitals and clinics, many of whom are highly contagious. No matter how diligent the janitorial staff in these facilities may be, it would be impossible to stay on top of all those germs 24/7. Try not to touch many surfaces while in clinics, and use hand sanitizer after you do touch things.
  3. Schools – Unfortunately, schools are hotbeds of illness as germs spread from child to child quickly and easily, especially in younger grades. It is difficult to ensure your child doesn’t catch a cold or come in contact with harmful bacteria like E. coli in schools, but you can teach them the importance of thorough hand washing with warm water and soap after using the washroom or after activities like gym or art class, and especially before they eat their lunch or recess to help cut down on germ over-exposure. It is also a good idea to make sure your child doesn’t pick up habits like nail biting which will enable them to lead all the germs they touch directly to their mouths.
  4. Grocery stores One recent study surmises that there is a 72% chance the grocery cart you choose will have fecal matter on it – gross! If that doesn’t make you want to wipe down most publicly used items before using them, what will?
  5. Banks ATM machine buttons have shown to be highly contaminated as well, which makes sense considering hundreds of people use some of those machines daily and areas of the machines are likely hard to clean since they are electronic. Try using hand sanitizer right after a bank or ATM visit to neutralize some of those creepy crawlies.
  6. Fitness centers – Shared equipment like yoga mats or machines are choc-full of other people’s sweat and bacteria and can facilitate the spread of infectious skin fungi and other issues.

Other Germy Public Hotspots

Germ-alicious honorable mentions include:

  • Restaurants
  • Public transport
  • Arcades
  • Office buildings
  • Shopping centers

Bottom Line on Germy Spots

Most any public area will be highly contaminated so It is always a good idea to carry sanitizing wipes in your purse or pocket and wipe down communally used items like restaurant tables. If you want to go the extra mile in avoiding excess bugs, you can pass on leafing through communal magazines in waiting areas and opt to at your own book or phone instead. Lastly, it is smart to bring hand sanitizer with you when in public in case you can’t get to a rest room to wash your hands (or wish to avoid dirty sinks in said washrooms). Having said all this, there is no need to drive yourself to stress over germs – they exist everywhere and most of them are fine, but it is good to be mindful and practice these little tips to avoid unwanted infections or issues.

Thanks for visiting DocChat! If you haven’t already, check out our post “7 of The Germiest Items You Use Daily” next! We hope to see you again soon.


7 of the Germiest Items You Use Daily

Do you ever stop to think about just how much harmful bacteria you come in contact daily? Turns out, more than most of us could imagine! Let’s take a look at how germy some of our most-used household items can get:

  1. TV and DVD remotes – A 2012 study revealed 8 times more bacteria on hotel room TV remotes than public toilets! Wow. Be sure to sanitize those remotes before using them.
  2. Bedding – sheets and pillowcases are rife with bacteria from excess sweat, saliva, dead skin cells and more. Try to cover your pillows in allergen casings and wash your bedding frequently in hot water.
  3. Knobs and handles – studies show that kitchen knobs and handles are covered in thousands of bacteria, many of which are harmful. Your kitchen faucet’s handle alone harbors 13,227 bacteria per square inch! Cross contamination from inadequate hand washing while preparing raw meat products is primarily to blame, so be sure to wash thoroughly each time you handle raw meat.
  4. Bathtub – There are typically over 100,000 bacteria per square inch hiding in your bathtub near the drain. Be sure to thoroughly wash your bathtub every few days or else you may come out of the tub dirtier than when you got in!
  5. Household mats pick up all kinds of dirt from our (extremely) dirty shoes and feet daily. The bathroom mat is especially full of germs because it lies on a wet bathroom floor which really encourages bacteria to flourish. Try to wash your mats weekly on the highest heat setting with bleach to kill those micro-crawlies.
  6. Kitchen cloths and sponges – a recent study found over 10 million bacteria per square inch on kitchen sponges, and about 1 million per square inch on cloths! Those are some pretty unnerving statistics. It is important to wash all sponges and dish cloths at over 140 degrees Fahrenheit regularly to kill the numerous bacteria.
  7. Smartphone devices – You have no idea just how dirty the little device that is oh-so-close to your heart really is. One study found 600 units per swab of Staphylococcus aureus on an iPad and 140 units on a smartphone, much more than the average 20 units per swab on a toilet seat.

Pretty gross, hey? Well stay tuned next for some of the germiest public places, along with some advice to cut down on germ exposure. Thanks for visiting DocChat! Remember, our board-certified physicians are standing by 24/7/365 for any health concerns you may have!

Food Poisoning Facts

  • According to the CDC approximately 48 million (1 in 6) Americans contract food poisoning each year
  • Foodborne illness is preventable with proper hygiene and caution.
  • 128, 000 of these people end up in the hospital for their poisoning, and over 3,000 die annually.
  • Food poisoning affects the gastrointestinal tract in different ways depending on the person and the responsible illness, common symptoms include: diarrhea, vomiting, intestinal pain and cramping and fever.
  • Food poisoning is caused by food that is inadvertently contaminated by harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites and other infectious organisms that are poisonous to humans. It can also be caused by traces of toxic chemicals.
  • The Clostridium botulinum bacteria, which presents as botulism can cause one of the more severe forms of food poisoning, leading to vision problems, muscle weakness, dizziness or even respiratory failure (resulting in death). It is most often caused by contaminated canned foods.
  • Aside from the immunocompromised, pregnant women, young children and the elderly are most likely to become more seriously poisoned.
  • It is recommended pregnant women refrain from eating any deli or sandwich meats as they may have traces of listeria that can be dangerous (or fatal) for an unborn baby.
  • There are over 250 types of known foodborne infections and illnesses.
  • Certain filter-feeding shellfish (like oysters) take in harmful ocean microbes or from sewage ejected into the sea.
  • Pre-made salad and greens can be the worst food to eat as it is often contaminated with fecal matter when washed and packaged. It is much safer to buy veggies and wash and prepare them yourself. This is a common reason for travel illness.
  • Generally speaking, unless you prepare food yourself you can never really be sure it isn’t contaminated.
  • Water that is without proper filtration is also a common cause of food poisoning during travel.
  • The CDC suggests the most common type of food poisoning is the norovirus which is caused by salmonella, clostridium perfringens and campylobacter.
  • Meats are sometimes contaminated during the animal’s slaughter with bacteria from their intestines that are healthy for animals but harmful to humans.


When to See The Doc

Most cases of foodborne illness resolve themselves after an unpleasant few days, but if your stomach sickness continues for more than 3 or 4 days, if there is blood present in your stool or vomit, if you can’t even keep liquid down, are dehydrated, experiencing dizziness or blurry vison or a persistent temperature of 101.d degrees or higher, it is time to seek medical help. If you have any questions about food poisoning or particular symptoms, feel free to sign up to DocChat today to try a video consultation with one of our highly qualified physicians! Thanks for visiting!