Microbiome Awareness Month – To Handshake or Fist Bump?

Many find time this month to catch up with friends and family.  There has been interesting research on how many microbes are exchanged between people depending on the greeting – a handshake or a fist bump.

Research has studied whether a fist bump or handshake spreads more bacteria between individuals in order to determine which might be more hygienic.  In 2013, researchers at West Virginia University had two participants, both healthcare workers, shake hands with 20 colleagues, then got them to press their palms on specially prepared agar culture plates.  After thoroughly washing their hands, they went through a similar process, only this time using fist bumps.

Fist bumping resulted in a reduction in colony-forming units of around a quarter, compared to handshaking, a phenomenon the researchers said was mainly due to smaller areas of skin coming into contact.

So, as you catch up with old acquaintances, consider how you greet them, so you can get caught up on stories without catching microbes.

For more on microbes and hand contact, read our classic blog post.


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