Sharing of towel bath is common in homes among siblings and also among spouses especially during travels. After each use a bath towel is wet and provides a good medium for bacterial, it is usually left in a warm bathroom and has some dead skin tissue which provide nutrient for the bacteria. The bacteria can easily be transferred to the next user.
Because bath towels are used to clean different parts of the body, they easily pick up bacteria from the skin, the back side, groins, vagina opening, armpits, between the toes etc.
Consequently sharing of bath towels facilitate the spread of several communicable diseases; some of these are discussed below:
This is an infection of the eyes which could be due to bacteria or virus. The symptoms include painful red eye balls, watery or pus discharge and itchiness. The commonest type that comes to our mind in Nigeria is what we call “Apollo”. The spread of conjunctivitis can be facilitated by several other factors but sharing of bath towels plays a big role.
2. Skin infections
We refer here to skin infections due to staphylococcus or /and streptococcus and could present itself as rash with pus-like discharge, blisters, scabs, itching swells which could progress to form pus. It could also present itself as barbers’ rash such as at the back of the neck just on the hairline.
All these conditions can be contracted through sharing towels.
Gonorrhea is caused by a germ called Neisserria gonnorrheae and is occasionally associated with vaginal discharge. In most cases the disease does not show itself in women.
When it does, the discharge is whitish, thick and associated with vaginal irritation; there is also pain on passing urine. It is a sexually transmitted disease but can be contracted through sharing of bath towels with an infected person.
Trichomoniasis is an infection of the vagina caused by a germ called Trichomonas Vaginalis. The vaginal discharge is excessive, light, smelly and light yellowish in colour. It is associated with itching and pain when passing urine. The lining of the vagina also has tiny red spots.It is a sexually transmitted disease but can be contracted through sharing of bath towels with an infected person.
Scabies is an itchy skin disease appearing as little blisters or/and sores in certain parts of the body. It affects all ages but mostly children.
It is found in between the fingers, inner surface of the wrist, the waistline, navel, the genitals (penis in men and labia in women) and the sides of the breast in women.
The severe itching of scabies due to allergy to the mites which cause it, gives it away.
“Craw-Craw” or scabies is caused by the infestation of the skin by a mite Called “sarcoptes scabei” in man. Other species of these mites infest domestic animals like cat and dogs and may temporarily infest man. The female mite burrows throw the outer layers of the skin at the rate of two to three mm per day and lays about three eggs everyday of her four to five weeks lifespan. The eggs hatch after three or four days and the male and female young mites take about 10days to mature. At about the tenth day or so, they copulate and immediately after, the male dies, while the female continues the business continues the business of laying eggs and hatching new mites.
Scabies is predominantly a childhood phenomenon but it is by no means limited to children. Both female and male are equally affected but there may be a slight variation in the distribution of the rashes which however is due mainly to differences in individual habits.
Transmission is by direct close contact with an infested individual but in some cases there might be transfer of parasites from undergarments, TOWELS, soiled bed clothes and other garments freshly contaminated by infested persons. Scabies may also be transmitted among adults during sexual contact; and in such cases, the rashes are found on the genitals the penis and the scrotum in the male and labia in the female.
There is usually a rapid transmission among children the children of nursery and primary schools and epidemics have occurred during periods of war and economic crisis, in prisons, in army barracks or in any situation that favors overcrowding. Children who get infested at school may transmit the infestation of their peer groups at home and even their parents.
Trachoma is a very serious eye infection which can easily lead to blindness if not well handled. It is caused by a virus called TRIC. The infection presents with pus-like eye discharge with eventual scarification of the cornea (front of the eyeball) and conjunctiva (lining of the eyelids and front of the eye and deformity of the eyelids.
It is a well-known cause of blindness worldwide. Transmission is through contact, fomite, sharing of personal items including bath towels and flies.
7. Fungal infections.
Fungal infections especially athletes foot and ring worm of the body can be contracted through sharing towels with an infected person; athletes foot occurs in-between the toes (it is actually a form of ringworm), ring worm can also affect the groins in men and below the breasts in women and any other part of the body.