A nice firm handshake has long been a mark of good manners, but there’s a drawback: germs–a lot of them actually.But have no fear, the fist bump is here. You’ve seen it. From your friends in your neighborhood to the President of the United States, the fist bump has been all over and apparently it’s more hygienic.
Or at least, those were the findings of a new study published in the American Journal of Infection Control that examined which of three common greetings — the handshake, fist bump and high five — is most likely to spread bacteria.
One brave scientist dipped a gloved hand into a jar of E.coli and then proceeded to greet a colleague — who was wearing a clean glove — with each of the three gestures. Then they measured how much bacteria was transferred.
Sounds gross, right? Well, the findings might be even worse.
As USA Today reports, the team found a handshake spreads 10 times more bacteria than the fist bump — even when held for the same amount of time. It quotes study author David Whitworth saying, “A short, sweet fist bump will transmit the least bacteria.”
And the reasoning behind why the handshake is so much worse, even when duration is accounted for, is pretty simple: surface area. As Time writes, “Dr. Whitworth hypothesized that fist bumps are more hygienic mostly because they minimize the surface area of hand-to-hand contact, and they’re usually quicker than handshakes.”
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And that’s not even taking into account that we touch way more things with our fingertips and palms than we do with the backs of our knuckles.
OK. So what’s next? Get rid of handshakes? Only do fist bumps? The logical conclusion is focus more on hand washing. It does help reduce the spread of bacteria.
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