A Moment of Science

Hand Bacteria

Scientists at the University of Colorado found that women's hands, especially, are just teeming with all kinds of bacteria.

Washing hands in sink

Photo: Ms. Tina (flickr)

Washing your hands can prevent the spread of harmful bacteria

We all know that our hands are covered with bacteria. But did you know that women have more bacterial cells on their hands than men?

Scientists at the University of Colorado found that women’s hands, especially, are just teeming with all kinds of bacteria. They’re not sure why this is the case. It could be because the moisture on mens’ hands is typically more acidic, and bacteria don’t do as well in an acidic environment. In any case, the bottom line is that we have a lot of bacteria on our hands–at least over a hundred different types.

Despite these insights, women’s hands are probably not less healthy or hygienic.  Just like we have lots of useful bacteria in our guts, the bacteria on our hands are probably there for a reason. Or, at least, they’re not doing us much or any harm. Some bacteria actually prevent the spread of harmful microbes. However, it wouldn’t hurt to wash with anti bacterial soap.

Don Glass

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Don Glass has worked in public radio since 1966. From 1970 to 1990 he served as Program Manager for WFIU, becoming Special Projects Director and Senior Producer from 1990 to 2005. He has retired from fulltime employment at the University, but continues to host and produce A Moment of Science. He enjoys working with A Moment of Science and learning fascinating new facts.

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