Some of the particles coming from shower heads are tiny enough to be inhaled into the airways.
“We conclude that showerheads may present a significant potential exposure to aerosolized microbes, including documented opportunistic pathogens.”
Paces adds that the potential health risk needs more research, particularly in patients with compromised immune or pulmonary systems, such as those with AIDS or emphysema.
His hygiene advice: While a normal, healthy person need not be concerned, he says those with immune system or lung problems may want to take baths instead of showers.
However, Aaron E. Glatt, MD, a spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America and president and CEO of the New Island Hospital in Bethpage, N.Y., reviewed the study and offered additional advice.
“Nobody should be changing their personal hygiene preferences based on this study,” Glatt says. “For healthy people, they don’t represent a significant pathogen,” he says. “For the immunocompromised, he says, they are more of a concern. Still, he says, more study is needed to see if the findings have importance clinically and would warrant new advice to people.
That said, both experts agreed that cleaning showerheads regularly is wise step to take.