As the semester gets going, students become more familiar with their classmate’s illnesses than their study habits.
Students have begun the early semester tradition of combating colds, allergies, and more. As they avoid illness, one place on-campus students may not think to be concerned about should be considered: the communal shower.
According to a study by the Simmons College Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community, Communal showers are the most contaminated surface in the dormitories. They are commonly referred to as ‘large petri dishes.’ Music students who need to protect against respiratory illnesses may find this horrifying, as the study showed that 20 percent of communal showers contained Streptococcus, which can cause strep throat or scarlet fever.
To combat these problems, be mindful and use proper shower etiquette. 43% of showers contain fecal bacteria, so it would be wise to be aware of the risks and prevention methods of communal restrooms.
Risks and Prevention Methods
The best-known risk, fungus tinea pedis (commonly known as Athlete’s foot) spreads through shower floors. An infection of this fungus can affect the skin between the toes, causing it to burn and itch. To prevent it, wear flip-flops in the shower. Some places sell them for as little as $1. They come in many materials, and sometimes even look cute or fashionable. They should probably be kept cleaner than the ones pictured below look. Wearing them can reduce the chance of catching or spreading the fungus.
Though generally forgotten, other fungi, mold, and algae grow on the shower floor. The puddles left on the floors (and yes, puddles serve as permanent residents in some 160 bathrooms—see images below) foster the growth of mold and other gross things. According to Fox News, the best way to combat mold in the bathrooms is to keep wet surfaces dry. Wipe up those puddles, and we’ll all be better off.
In addition to puddles, hair left on the floor of the showers can trap bacteria and give it a moist place to grow. It can also clog the drain. In order to avoid this problem, clean up hair in the restroom. It may be unpleasant. Few people like to look at clumps of their own hair, much less touch it. Even fewer, however, want to look at or touch other people’s clumps of hair. Absolutely no one wants to get sick because clumps of someone else’s hair litter the bathroom floor. Even if it’s as small as a strand of hair caught on the wall, cleaning up any hair left in the bathroom is necessary to avoid spreading illness and clogging the drain. Plus, it’s just being a decent human being.
Spot the hair in these photos, then wish you never had to.
Be Mindful. Be Considerate.
Though custodial staff cleans the showers every week, it doesn’t take long for gross things to grow, spread, and make people sick. Be mindful and clean up at the end of a shower to save the whole floor from illness. Perhaps a clarinetist won’t have to a phrase short because strep throat impairs their ability to breathe. This flu season, keep that in mind every time you step out of the shower.