Tag Archives: germs

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!




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!

Tips For Healthy Travels (Part 1)


It is true that you can get sick anywhere as we are constantly surrounded by contagions and contaminated surfaces, but when traveling that risk is increased tenfold with exposure to new bacteria, viruses and contaminants that your system is not used to. That is why it is important to take extra precautionary measures when traveling.

The Importance of On-The-Go Hygiene

  • Unfortunately, not everyone is careful about hand hygiene, but it is one of the most important preventative measures you can take against bugs like the nova virus, gastroenteritis, the flu or hepatitis A.
  • brush your teeth with bottled water, you never know how clean the drinking water is in your new environment. You could be saving yourself terrible illness by sticking to bottled water for drinking, face washing and teeth brushing.

Potential Health Risks in Your Hotel Room

  • A 2012 microbiology study showed high levels of fecal matter and other harmful microbes on hotel lamps, surfaces and door knobs. So try to wipe down surfaces if you can.
  • Bedbugs have been on the rise all over the world, and are often found in hotels. Be sure to perform a diagonal corner check on the bed, look under every layer down to the mattress for any bugs or abnormalities. Be careful where you lay your luggage. Bedbugs can leave small hive-like rashes or even trigger an allergic reaction in rare cases.
  • Allergies can flare up in hotels as there are often harsh cleaners used, down feather pillows and poor air quality. Be sure to take your allergy medication with you when you travel!

Reduce Your Children’s Risk of Travel Illness

  • Children are more vulnerable to germs and contagions because their immune systems are not fully developed and they tend to have germ-spreading habits.
  • Children tend to have poor hand hygiene, not washing hands as often or as thoroughly, and putting hands and other objects near mouth – supervise your child’s hand washing, make sure they are doing it frequently.
  • Carry hand sanitizer to use on your children’s hands when soap and water aren’t available.
  • Ensure your child is up to date on immunizations and vaccines as per the CDC schedule.
  • Try to wipe down surfaces your children will be touching whenever possible such as airplane tray or tabletops in hotel rooms with cleaner or hand sanitizer.
  • Make sure children rinse off before and after swimming pools, they can be full of viruses and bacteria such as giardia and conjunctivitis.
  • teach your child to avoid touching certain highly contaminated surfaces such as those in a public washroom, get them to use paper towels when touching the taps or door handles.
  • Bring your own cuddle materials such as a favorite stuffed animal, small pillow or blanket to avoid using previously used airplane bedding.


Thanks for visiting DocChat, if you have any questions feel free to sign up and start a video consultation with one of our qualified physicians. Keep an eye out for Part 2 later today and travel safely!