When it comes to public restrooms, you’ve likely heard the debate over whether you should actually sit. According to some you’re better off squatting, while others insist that public toilet seats pose no health risk, so what’s the truth?
Well, it’s complicated. While you may not be at risk of contracting a deadly disease just by sitting on a public toilet seat, there are different germs you may pick up. But because there are number of factors that can impact the safety of toilet seats, let’s take a closer look at some of the most common health hazards in public restrooms.
Is it possible to get an STD?
The good news is that many organisms and germs that cause infections like chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, the human papillomavirus or trichomonas can only survive for a very short time on the surface of the toilet seat.
On top of that, the germs would have to make it into your urethral or genital tract through a cut or sore within seconds of sitting on the seat. However, despite it being unlikely, it is still possible.
What if there is pee on the seat?
While there is no doubt that it’s simply gross, it’s unlikely that you will pick up anything from it. Though there are many types of infections that can be spread through pee, like trichomonas, it would have to enter into your urinary tract to cause any problems.
If you do have the unfortunate experience of sitting down and feeling unwanted wetness, wipe your bottom area with warm, soapy water. A good rule of thumb is to always check the seat before you sit down so you can wipe away any unwanted germs.
What about if you get toilet backsplash in your private areas?
Of all the restroom hazards we’ve looked at thus far, this one may just be the grossest. You are more likely to be exposed to bacteria found in fecal matter and bowel movements from previous restroom users. It’s important to note, though, that the backsplash would have to get into the genital area, not just the skin surrounding it.
Toilet seat vs. doorknob: Which one’s dirtier?
Depending on what public restroom you’re using, it can be difficult to say exactly which one is dirtier. Typically, door handles can be filled with a larger variety of bacteria than some toilet seats. And depending on the material of the doorknob, bacteria may be able to survive longer than it can on toilet seats. For instance, stainless steel in particular is more conducive to bacteria thriving.
Public restroom to-dos:
1. When you’re traveling or just out and about, make sure that you wear a scarf, a long shirt or have tissues on hand so that you can use one of them to open the door without touching the knob.
2. To practice the highest level of toilet-seat safety, it is best to squat; however, that can be an exhausting workout for your legs. Instead, flush the toilet before using it and wipe down the seat with toilet paper. If there are toilet seat liners available, even better. Don’t be afraid to use toilet paper to line the seat if you’d like.
3. It’s never a bad thing to have hand sanitizer on hand so that you can apply it after leaving the restroom to avoid spreading any unwanted germs.
4. In the event that you notice irregular symptoms after using a public restroom, make sure to see your doctor. Because there are such a wide variety of bacteria present in public restrooms, your primary care provider, the medical expert that knows you and your medical history best, will be able to help. With the new GMC Primary Care & Specialty Center-Suwanee, you will have convenient access to an extensive range of services, provided by experienced specialists, all in a spa-like environment.