Advise Me

Fist Bumping Is Better

Do you ever have classic horror film music playing in your head the minute someone goes in for a handshake? I do. However, working in Corporate America, you don’t really have a choice: handshakes here, handshakes there, handshakes everywhere!

According to USA Today, a new study shows that exchanging a sticky, sweaty or even slimy handshake is much worse than some of the alternative greeting techniques.  Published in the American Journal of Infection Control, experts tested three greetings for a study: handshakes, fist bumps or high fives.

 The results concluded that a simple and common handshake transmitted 10 times more bacteria than fist bumps and about two times more than high fives.

And, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that  80 percent of all infections are transmitted by hands.

According to Barbara Edwards, RN Clinical Director at Banner Health, replacing handshakes for fist bumps is not always the most appropriate form of greeting, especially in a professional or health care setting. Check out the top three tips that Edwards suggests in order to exchange a clean handshake with our colleagues, friends and even strangers.

  1. Wash your hands as often as you can to help prevent the spread of germs and viruses
  2. If soap and water are not available, it is recommended that you use a hand sanitizer as often as you can
  3. Always keep objects you touch the most - such as phones, light switches, door handles, remote controls, keyboards, toilet handles and keys - clean and disinfected

"Societal customs and infection control often will clash; fortunately, we can all do some simple things to help control the spread of potentially harmful microbes without living in a bubble," explains  Russell Horton, DO, a pediatrician at Banner Health Center in Queen Creek. "Avoid physical greetings if you know or suspect you may be ill and don't be shy about excusing yourself from a handshake if you are sick!"

So please, next time you cough, sneeze, spit up, wipe your nose or go to the restroom, stop using your hand as a handkerchief. Revisit your kindergarten days and sing the alphabet in your head as you scrub away that infectious bacteria. Because let’s be honest, handshakes aren't going anywhere!

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