Phone hygiene habits amid new Covid-19 variant

Health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”.[1] A variety of definitions have been used for different purposes over time. Health can be promoted by encouraging healthful activities, such as regular physical exercise and adequate sleep,[2] and by reducing or avoiding unhealthful activities or situations, such as smoking or excessive stress. Some factors affecting health are due to individual choices, such as whether to engage in a high-risk behavior, while others are due to structural causes, such as whether the society is arranged in a way that makes it easier or harder for people to get necessary healthcare services. Still other factors are beyond both individual and group choices, such as genetic disorders.

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Your cell phone can be a major cause of germs and bacteria around you. Make sure you keep it clean and hygienic.

When was the last time you cleaned your phone? Well, we often forget or pay less heed to cleaning our phones and other electronic devices. But considering the spread of viruses and infections these days, it may be good for us to be a little more careful. With the new Covid-19 variant Omicron surfacing across the world, the need for sanitization and hygiene has become pronounced one again. And while we know that keeping our hands clean is a priority, maybe we should also know the importance of keeping our widely used phone bacteria-free.

A 2012 study from the University of Arizona found that a cell phone can carry 10 times more bacteria than most toilet seats! Isn’t it startling? It makes you understand that disinfecting our cell phones to prevent the likely transmission of infections and viruses is essential.

As per a commentary published in the BMJ Global Health journal in 2020, a group of doctors had stated that mobile phone surfaces are a peculiar ‘high-risk’ surface especially in the Covid-19 era, and in healthcare institutions. This is because they can directly come in contact with the face or mouth, even if hands are properly washed.

Our lives are constantly revolving around our smartphones. From chatting to scrolling social media to web surfing or clicking selfies and photographs – there’s so much that we do through cell phones. This makes us more susceptible to getting affected by germs and bacteria. Most people have the habit of carrying their phones everywhere, even in contaminated environments, and that makes them prone to many diseases.

Dr Seema Dhir, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine, Artemis Hospital, Gurugram, tells HealthShots, “The phone, because of its regular usage, is generally warmer. It is also close to body temperature as it usually remains close to the human body. Bacteria can grow easily and multiply also at this temperature”.

Prioritise your health, not your smartphone. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

In general, the major cause of germ transfer from phones is sharing it. So, the idea is to keep it clean.

Here are a few suggestions to keep your cell phone disinfected, according to Dr Dhir:

  1. Sharing of phones between people is a problem. Without sharing, each phone carries just one set of germs, and won’t get its owner sick. Hence, it is necessary to note the point that after sharing your cell phone with another person, always disinfect your phone.
  2. You should regularly wipe your phone with anti-bacterial wipes.
  3. As we are in close proximity with our cell phones, one should always wash hands and mouth before eating and not use the phone alongside.
  4. Not only your cell phone but other devices and equipment that we come across daily like shopping carts, office landlines, elevator buttons, etc are publicly used. Therefore, always sanitize your hands after using them.
  5. You can use an alcohol swab (60 percent water and 40 percent alcohol rub on a soft cloth) instead of many other disinfected sprays that might risk the life of your cell phone.
hand sanitiser
Hand sanitisers must be used for hands and for disinfecting the cell phones Image courtesy: Shutterstock

An interesting suggestion by Susan Whittier, director of clinical microbiology at New York-Presbyterian and Columbia University Medical Center, is to “keep your phones out of the bathroom”!

Always keep your surroundings and your cellphone clean!

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