Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Children's Health

Font Size

Toys in Doctors’ Offices Are Germ Hotbeds

Refrigerator Handles, Light Switches, Phone Keypads Also Harbor Germs

Masks, Hand Sanitizers Can Help

So how can you protect yourself? The typical advice that's been passed from generation to generation is to wash your hands frequently during cold and flu season to avoid catching a bug. Now, a University of Michigan study suggests that wearing surgical masks and using alcohol-based hand sanitizers can also help.

The researchers studied about 1,000 students who lived in dorms during last year's flu season. They were divided into three groups for six weeks: one group wore masks, one wore masks and used hand sanitizers, and one did neither.

Results showed that the students in the two groups that wore masks were about 10% to 50% less likely to develop flu-like symptoms than those who used no preventive measures.

Researcher Allison Aiello, MD, says further study is needed to confirm the results. "Nevertheless, these initial results are encouraging since masks and hand hygiene may be effective for preventing a range of respiratory illnesses," she says.

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

preschool age girl sitting at desk
look at my hand
woman with cleaning products
young boy with fever

worried kid
boy on father's shoulder
Child with red rash on cheeks
girl thinking

Child with adhd
rl with friends
Syringes and graph illustration
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Build a Fitter Family Challenge – Get your crew motivated to move.
Feed Your Family Better Challenge - Tips and tricks to healthy up your diet.
Sleep Better Challenge - Snooze clues for the whole family.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply

WebMD Special Sections