28 July 2014

Fist bumps more hygienic than handshakes

Researchers in Britain have found that a handshake transfers 10 times as much bacteria as a fist bump.


Fist bumps are more hygienic than handshakes and drastically reduce the risk of spreading infectious diseases, researchers in Britain have found.

The study discovered that a handshake transfers 10 times as much bacteria as a fist bump, following a series of tests at Aberystwyth University on the west coast of Wales.

Health implications of shaking hands

Doctor Dave Whitworth, who led the research, said the study could have a serious impact on public health.

"People rarely think about the health implications of shaking hands. But if the general public could be encouraged to fist bump, there is a genuine potential to reduce the spread of infectious diseases."

Researchers were able to measure the movement of germs using sterile rubber gloves, one of which was dipped into a coating of the potentially deadly E. coli bacteria, before exchanging a range of greeting gestures.

Read: E. coli

The results of the research, published in the American Journal of Infection Control, showed that handshakes passed on far more of the dangerous bacteria than fist bumps or high fives.

Cleanliness in the workplace

The number of germs moving between people was reduced by more than half during a high five and 90 percent in a fist bump.

Experiments also found that a firmer handshake increased the level of bacteria shared between palms.

Read: Handshakes influence first impressions

Fist bumps, famously employed by US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle, are thought to be more hygienic due to their shorter duration and smaller contact area.

The study was inspired by the increasing promotion of cleanliness in the workplace, including the growing use of hand-sanitisers and keyboard disinfectants.

Read more:

Global warming fuels disease
10 yucky hygiene facts
Good hygiene bad for bowels?

Image: Man and woman fist bumping from Shutterstock




Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Exercise benefits for seniors »

Working out in the concrete jungle Even a little exercise may help prevent dementia Here’s an unexpected way to boost your memory: running

Seniors who exercise recover more quickly from injury or illness

When sedentary older adults got into an exercise routine, it curbed their risk of suffering a disabling injury or illness and helped them recover if anything did happen to them.