A recent study conducted at the University of Colorado shows that women carry a greater variety of germs on their hands than men.
''One thing that really is astonishing is the variability between individuals, and also between hands on the same individual," said Rob Knight, a University of Colorado biochemistry assistant professor who was among the researchers.
''The sheer number of bacteria species detected on the hands of the study participants was a big surprise, and so was the greater diversity of bacteria we found on the hands of women,'' said lead researcher Noah Fierer.
The researchers theorized that women carry more germs because of the acidity of their skin. Knight said men generally have more acidic skin than women. The more acid on the skin, the less likely bacteria will grow.
The researchers emphasized the importance of hand washing, but they noted hand washing -- even with antibacterial soap, doesn't eliminate all bacteria.
But you can eliminate most bacteria on your hands by following these simple steps:
- Wet your hands in water as warm as you can tolerate
- Lather with liquid soap and rub hands together vigorously for at least 30 seconds
- Count one thousand. . . two thousand. . . three thousand . . . until you reach 30
- Clean under your fingernails with a clean fingernail file or the fingernails on your other hand
- Rinse your hands after 30 seconds
- Lather your hands again briefly then rinse
- Use a disposable paper towel to dry your hands
- Use another paper towel (not the one you dried your hands with) to turn off the water
- use that same paper towel to open the bathroom door
- Discard the paper towel in the waste basket by the door
If there is no waste basket near the door, alert the management of the establishment, or carry your own paper towels in your handbag.
If you have dry skin, use a low pH lotion (between 4.5-5.5). The lower the pH, the more acidic the lotion. Remember, bacteria can't survive in an acidic environment.
Eucerin Daily Replenishing lotion is a good lotion to use.
This has been your Medical Minute.