What’s living on your festival wristbands?
Every summer, thousands gather at music festivals to enjoy some good times and make fun memories. And after they leave, many attendees continue to wear their wristbands for months, or even years, as a reminder of the fun night. But a new study suggests that you may want to reconsider wearing that keepsake, no matter how many memories it holds.
Researchers from the University of Surrey found that festival wristbands that are worn for long periods of time can be a breeding ground for bacteria and contain twenty times more bacteria than clothes.
The researchers examined wristbands that had been worn for two years. Though the bacteria that were found on the wristbands are also normally found on people’s skin, these wristbands had exceedingly high amounts, with a concentration of around 9,000 micrococci and 2,000 staphylococci bacteria.
“Wearing festival wristbands on your wrists for a year is like wearing the same article of clothing every day for a year,” says Dr. Kamo Sidhwa, an infectious disease specialist on staff at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Ill. “Most people wouldn’t even consider doing that. Wearing a wristband while showering, sleeping or participating in physical activity can quickly become foul.”
Though much bacteria can be harmless, some bacteria like staphylococci – which was found on the wristbands in the study – can cause infections in cuts and skin abrasions, as well as contribute to the development of boils on the skin. Inviting those bacteria to grow on your skin can be dangerous for your health and, in some cases, may require antibiotics to cure infections caused by the bacteria.
“Bacteria are all around us,” says Dr. Sidhwa. “Although some bacteria are protective in a way, many are pathogens, and carrying around a germ colony wherever you go can be very unsanitary. Even if your wristbands are good conversation starters or hold many memories for you, it may be in your best interest to simply cut them off and store them in a keepsake box. This is especially true for health care workers or those who work in the food industry, as there may be an increased risk of spread of potentially dangerous infections from person to person.”
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