Germiest Places InThe Holiday Mall...

While Christmas shopping this year, think about this...

You will be exposing yourself to many germs like flu viruses, E. coli, and staph, that can make you sick. "Anywhere people gather is filled with bacteria and viruses, and a crowded shopping mall is a perfect example," says Philip Tierno, PhD, director of clinical microbiology and immunology at New York University Langone Medical Center. So here are the top places to be aware of at the mall:

public-restroomRestroom Sinks

The filthiest area in a restroom is the sink, experts say. Bacteria, including E. coli, fester on the faucet and handles because people touch those surfaces right after using the toilet, says Charles Gerba, PhD. he claims "The sink area is a moist environment, so bacteria can survive longer there," Watch out for soap dispensers, too. When Prof. Gerba's team tested liquid soap from refillable dispensers in public bathrooms, they found that one in four contained unsafe levels of bacteria. Wash your hands thoroughly after using a public loo, not like a 6yo. does, or you deserve to get sick..

Food Court Tables 

women-food-courtElaine Larson, PhD, says "Even if you see the table being wiped down, that doesn't mean it's clean, "The rags themselves can actually spread harmful bacteria such as E. coli if they are not changed and washed regularly." The employees should be using a disinfectant spray. Consider stashing a pack of  disinfecting wipes in your purse girls, so you can swipe the table before you sit down. Look for ones that contain alcohol or another disinfecting agent in order to make sure you're killing germs, not just wiping away dirt. Guy's keep your fingers crossed on this one, but we can keep a traveler of hand sanitizer handy.

Escalator Handrails

"In testing", Prof.Gerba says "they have found food, E. coli, urine, mucus, feces, and blood on escalator handrails", and where there is mucus, you may also find cold and flu viruses. Prof.Gerba says they've found respiratory flora on handrails. "which makes sense", he says "because people cough into their hands, then touch the rails." So, avoid touching handrails altogether, recommends Professor Gerba, unless you absolutely have to, in which case, give yourself a generous squirt of hand sanitizer afterward.

ATM Keypads

atm-machine-handIn one study, after testing 38 ATM's in metropolitan downtown area, researchers found that each key contained an average of 1,200 germs, including illness-inducing
microbes like E. coli and cold and flu viruses, Dr. Tierno leader of the study says. The worst key of all of course is the "enter" button, because everyone has to touch it. So to protect yourself, I know it's hard to get used to but, "Knuckle" the ATM buttons you'll avoid getting germs on your fingertips, which are more likely to find their way to your face, eyes and mouth than your knuckles. Makes sense right... and be sure to wash your hands or use sanitizer ASAP. 

Toy Stores

family-toy-storeToy stores can actually be germier than play areas, carousels, and other kid-friendly zones. Simply because of the way the little crumb snatchers behave there. Kids lick toys, roll them on their heads, and rub them on their faces, and all that leaves a plethora of germs on the toys. Also the goods their parents don't buy ends up back on the shelves, where your kid finds them. So this year after you make a purchase, wipe down or disinfect any toy that isn't in a sealed box or package with soap and water, alcohol, or disinfectant wipe before giving it to your child. 
Fitting Rooms

woman-fitting-roomYou won't pick up much from the hooks or the chair. So where's the germs? Well maybe it's what you try on. After people try on clothing, skin cells and perspiration can accumulate on the inside.

You can even pick up antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), just by trying on clothes.
It's a good idea to wear underwear when trying on clothes, especially pants, bathing suits, and any other garment that touches your private parts.

Gadget Shops

electronics-storeWhile you're playing around on that new smartphone, you're probably  picking up germs from the thousand people who tested it out before you. A study published last year in the Journal of Applied Microbiology found that viruses easily transfer between glass surfaces (think iPad or smartphone faces) and fingertips, and a recent report found that of four iPads swabbed in two Apple stores located in New York City, one contained Staphylococcus aureus, the most common cause of staph infections. That's not even counting the cold and flu germs. So before you try out the latest gizmo, quickly wipe it down with a disinfecting wipe.

red-chanel-lipstickMakeup Samples

Heading to the makeup counter? A 2005 study found that between 67 and 100% of makeup-counter testers were contaminated with bacteria, including staph, strep, and E. coli. Again that's 67 to 100% !!!
So, avoid using public makeup samples or brushes to apply cosmetics to your lips, eyes, or face, ask for a single-use unit (you open it, try it, and throw it away). If that's not available, use a tissue to wipe off the sample and then apply the product to the back of your hand.  
Beat the colds and flu, this holiday shopping season. Good Luck...


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