We have all been there, out in public and you have to go to the bathroom. You’re frantically hunting for a public restroom that isn’t covered in stains from the previous user. This can be stressful to some people as they are fearful of contracting a germ from an unsanitary bathroom.
Bacteria isn’t something that we should be deathly afraid of. After all, the human body has approximately 25%-54% microbes in our fecal matter. There are a wide range of bacteria that are known to live in human fecal matter like Campylobacter, Enterococcus, Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Shigella, Staphylococcus, Streptococcus and Yersinia bacteria – as well as viruses such as norovirus, rotavirus and hepatitis A and E, just to name a few.
My point here is that there is always going to be a risk of infection when encountering fecal matter, but the question we are asking today is there a risk of an infection in a public restroom?
Contracting a virus/bacteria from sitting on a toilet in the public restroom is very unlikely. Most intestinal diseases need hand to mouth transfer of the bacteria. One of the main reasons you won’t get an infection is the human skin which is the largest organ of the human body is also covered by a layer of bacteria and yeast which functions as a super protective shield against germs. This is part of your immune system, it is fighting germs daily to keep you healthy.
Some people will use the toilet paper covering to protect their bottom while others may hover over the toilet to protect it from germs. This is a bad idea explains Brianne Grogan a women’s health physical therapist.
“The problem with “hovering” over the toilet when urinating is that the muscles of your pelvic floor and pelvic girdle – your hip rotators, gluten, back and abs – are extremely tense. This pelvic girdle tension makes it difficult for urine to flow easily, often requiring you to push or “bear down” slightly to make the urine come out quickly. Frequent pushing or bearing down to urinate can contribute to pelvic organ prolapse.”
What about the dirty toilet or door handle?
Yes, it is a problem in the cleaning industry that door handles often get missed in cleaning and may have germs left behind, but don’t be afraid of the germs. Your body has a microbial and immune defense that provides a strong defense against infection after visiting dirty areas.
How can I combat against a dirty bathroom?
One of the best defenses is to wash your hands with warm soapy water. Washing your hands thoroughly will remove the dirt, bacteria, and viruses. This will add a level of protection for your when visiting public bathrooms. Once you have washed and dried, try avoiding touching the door handle on the way out. Yes, those do have a microbial presence on them. Or you can carry a small container of hand sanitizer and wipe your hands one final time now that you have left the restroom.
Quick Fact: Did you know that 75% of people today use their phones on the toilet? A study in the United States shows that your cell phone is ten times dirtier than a public bathroom. Keep that in mind next time your visit your local public bathroom.