Public bathrooms and public health: Doctors expose the real risks involved

It can be in a mall, train, club, or school – whenever and wherever nature is sending us to use the nearest public bathrooms, we are forced to face hazards that involves dirt, discomfort, and annoyance but above it all, a potential health danger.

The first concern we face in public bathrooms is of course, poor hygiene and exposure to germs. Even public spaces such as buses and offices can be a potential zone for germs so of course bathroom that is exposed to the public’s bodily fluids is much more repulsive and certainly riskier – it can be uncleaned areas, overflowing trash cans, unsanitary floors, all essential reasons to avoid public bathrooms as much as possible.


When we get sick in the mist of winter, we won’t necessarily think or assume it happened over a sudden visit to public bathrooms. There’s many urban legends and wrong assumptions around the subject so we went out to clear the air with the help of Doctor Preethi, a general hygiene and NHS physician that helped us understand the risks involved. Dr. Preethi had positive and negative news for us, let’s start with the good ones:

“To get a sexually transmitted disease (Such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis) while visiting a public bathroom, one has to have a direct encounter between the vaginal area, an opened wound on the skin and the toilet seat. It sounds like a reasonable risk but in fact, there’s more chances for you to get hit by a lightening while riding a camel on the beach, the risk is almost non-existent…”

With our sigh of relief, the doctor continued, to share different thoughts of the subject:

“But, with that being said, salmonella and e-coli germs are easily transmitted in public bathroom and there are very specific rules to follow to avoid it.”
We asked the Dr. to provide us with the top 3 tips that any health professional recommended to follow, when using a public restroom:

•    Wash your hands thoroughly with soap after leaving the stall, for at least a minute and more. 
•    Always keep a tiny bottle of anti-bacterial hand sanitizer with you, there’s plenty of different brands with different fragrances available, get one that easily attaches to your hand back or backpack.
•    If you do end up sitting on a stall, make sure you cover it with toilet paper after cleaning it with wet wipes.
With those warnings, Dr. Preethi highlighted that most diseases we’ll end up catching do not come from a brief visit in public bathrooms. But is he right or is it just too hard to go back and prove it? Either way, we’ll make sure we listen to the doctor’s orders and health guidelines!