Skip to content

    Health & Balance

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    What Can You Catch in Restrooms?

    Bathroom Paranoia

    WebMD Feature

    Perhaps Ally McBeal can ease her off-the-charts stress levels by escaping to the office restroom. But for most of us, public toilets are actually a bit scary.

    Recommended Related to Mind, Body, Spirit

    Can You Change Unhealthy Family Patterns?

    By Carrie Sloan The Rumor: Family patterns are almost impossible to change, whether they're healthy or not You and your family members have been doing a certain dance for decades, and everyone knows their footwork. The minute you try to change it up, you’re going to step on toes. This is especially true around the holidays, when we tend to revert to our 12-year-old selves. “You go back to your original dynamics,” says Karen Sherman, Ph.D., a psychologist and relationship specialist in Long...

    Read the Can You Change Unhealthy Family Patterns? article > >

    If you squirm at the thought of creepy germs lurking on toilet seats and faucet handles, you probably spend as little time as possible in the restrooms of your office building, not to mention those in restaurants, hotels and (God forbid!) gas stations. And during those nerve-wracking moments when you dare to venture into the confines of the bathroom, you may find yourself pushing open the stall door with your elbows, crouching precariously above the toilet seat rather than letting your skin touch it, and flushing with your shoe.

    But while there's plenty of bathroom paranoia to go around, anxiety might be a little overdone. Yes, there can be plenty of bugs lying in wait in public restrooms, including both familiar and unfamiliar suspects like streptococcus, staphylococcus, E. coli and shigella bacteria, hepatitis A virus, the common cold virus, and various sexually transmitted organisms. But if your immune system is healthy, and if you adopt simple hygienic measures like handwashing, you should be able to deliver a knockout punch to most of what you encounter and perhaps put your "germ-phobia" to rest.

    No doubt about it, there could be a witch's brew of germs wherever you turn in public restrooms. Many people consider toilet seats to be public enemy No. 1 -- the playground for organisms responsible for STDs like chlamydia or gonorrhea. But before you panic, the toilet seat is not a common vehicle for transmitting infections to humans. Many disease-causing organisms can survive for only a short time on the surface of the seat, and for an infection to occur, the germs would have to be transferred from the toilet seat to your urethral or genital tract, or through a cut or sore on the buttocks or thighs, which is possible but very unlikely.

    "To my knowledge, no one has ever acquired an STD on the toilet seat -- unless they were having sex on the toilet seat!" says Abigail Salyers, PhD, president of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM).

    1 | 2 | 3

    Today on WebMD

    woman in yoga class
    6 health benefits of yoga.
    beautiful girl lying down of grass
    10 relaxation techniques to try.
     
    mature woman with glass of water
    Do you really need to drink 8 glasses of water a day?
    coffee beans in shape of mug
    Get the facts.
     
    Take your medication
    Slideshow
    Hand appearing to hold the sun
    Article
     
    Hungover man
    Slideshow
    Welcome mat and wellington boots
    Slideshow
     
    Woman worn out on couch
    Article
    Happy and sad faces
    Quiz
     
    Fingertip with string tied in a bow
    Article
    laughing family
    Quiz