For most of us, malls are hard to avoid during the month of December. The problem with this is that in addition to the wonderful pre-holiday sales, the beautiful decorations and the mall Santa Claus, the crowded malls become giant germ-filled petri dishes. In an article about the germiest places at the mall, Philip Tierno, Ph.D., director of clinical microbiology and immunology at New York University Langone Medical Center, tells Health.com: “Anywhere people gather is filled with bacteria and viruses, and a crowded shopping mall is a perfect example.”
The article touches on the usual suspects, like bathroom sinks and those cramped tables in the food court. But there are also a few sources of germs that we’ve never really thought about before, such as the great new clothes you’re trying on in the fitting room and the hand-held gaming device that a hundred other kids touched before yours came along to give it a try. Gross.
Unfortunately, the truth is that just like malls, germs are sometimes unavoidable. The best thing that you can do to protect yourself, particularly during cold and flu season, is to know the biggest culprits, steer clear when you can, and keep some antibacterial gel or wipes stashed in your purse.