Experts reveal proper bathroom hygiene to avoid infections

Science and Health

Proper bathroom hygiene is crucial to avoid infections, irritations, and discomfort. Numerous studies highlight the risks of incorrect toilet paper use, wiping techniques, and even flushing habits.

Let’s start with toilet paper:

While various types are available, experts suggest considering alternatives to toilet paper altogether. Japanese scientists recommend bidets, emphasizing their ability to reduce infection risks significantly. A study published in the Journal of Water & Health found that bidet users had ten times fewer harmful bacteria on their hands than those using toilet paper.

Using toilet paper has been linked to the spread of the Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) bacterium, causing soft stools and inflammatory bowel diseases. In America alone, approximately 500,000 people annually contract C. difficile, resulting in the death of 15,000 to 30,000 individuals. Dr. Evan Goldstein, a specialist rectal surgeon in New York, asserts that toilet paper is not as hygienic as we may believe and encourages the adoption of bidets.

Better to use a bidet (credit: Giphy)

For those unable to switch to bidets, using the correct type of toilet paper and employing proper wiping techniques is essential to prevent irritation, hemorrhoids, and potential infections. Single-ply toilet paper, for example, is rougher on the skin and can create open wounds, increasing the risk of infection.

Dr. Trisha Pasricha, a gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, advises against using single-ply toilet paper due to its thinness and rough texture. Bleached toilet paper can also cause discomfort. 

A case study revealed that a woman experienced irritation for four years until her symptoms improved after using unbleached toilet paper. Experts recommend opting for strong, absorbent, and soft toilet paper.

Now, let’s discuss proper wiping techniques:

Instead of aggressive wiping, experts suggest gently dabbing the paper around the rear passage. Aggressive wiping can lead to skin damage, including hemorrhoids and bleeding. Harvard Medical School doctors emphasize that cleaning the anal area after every bowel movement is crucial but should be done gently to avoid irritation and anal itching.

Use only quality toilet paper (credit: Giphy)

The way you wipe can also impact genital health, particularly in women. It is crucial to wipe from front to back to prevent the entry of fecal bacteria into the urethra, which can lead to urinary tract infections (UTIs). The National Institutes of Health highlights the importance of wiping in the right direction and cautions against wiping movements that bring bacteria closer to the bladder and urinary tract.

Urinary tract infections are of particular concern for women due to their shorter urethra. Almost one in three women will require antibiotics for at least one UTI by the age of 24, and nearly half of all women will experience a UTI in their lifetime. Men are also susceptible to urinary tract infections, although less frequently.

Lastly, it is essential to close the toilet lid before flushing.

A study revealed that failing to close the lid results in the spread of 12 times more C. difficile bacteria than when the lid is closed.

By following these guidelines for proper bathroom hygiene, including using the correct toilet paper, adopting appropriate wiping techniques, and closing the lid before flushing, individuals can reduce their risk of infections and promote overall well-being.