Some scientific research indicates it may be in your best interest.

By Perri Ormont Blumberg
March 19, 2020

As the coronavirus situation escalates, handwashing has become an increasingly frequent routine. (Read the CDC's guidelines for washing your hands here. You're scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds, right?)

And while you may be diligently following all of the CDC directives for doing so—if you're anything like us—you may keep rings on during the process. As it turns out, you may want to play it "better safe than sorry" and remove your rings, and perhaps even watches or fitness trackers, before washing your hands, at least according to 2018 research on healthcare providers and handwashing from Georgia State University.

As Insider unearthed in a new article, the Georgia State research indicates that bacteria can hide in areas where your rings sit on your fingers. The research also found that those individuals who didn't wear rings while they washed their hands killed off more bacteria than people who wore rings during handwashing. It's worth noting that this review of 11 scientific articles ultimately showed "mixed findings" in the link between healthcare professionals wearing rings and a higher bacterial colonization resulting on their hands. While the final verdict is still out—"The Center for Disease Control has stated that further studies are needed to ascertain if wearing rings results in greater transmission of pathogens in healthcare settings," as the paper's researcher Anish Patel noted in the paper's discussion section—we don't see any harm on erring on the side of caution right now.

In a recent piece published on Huffington Post, this suggestion is corroborated with Lucy Wilson, a professor in the department of emergency health services at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, saying it would be “reasonable to assume that [coronavirus] could be on any type of jewelry.” In addition to taking your rings off when washing your hands, Wilson stresses the importance of disinfecting your jewelry, or considering taking them off altogether if you don't want to regularly wash these items: "If rings are contaminated and you pop them back on after washing your hands, you've recontaminated your hands. If you're not going to disinfect your rings, you shouldn't be taking them off and putting them back on."

We hope everyone is staying safe during this unsettling time. On that note, we're off to return a few rings to our jewelry box for safekeeping.

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