Acne, infections: your cellphone could be giving you bad skin

Image: 123RF/Michael Simons

Feeling a slight itch on your cheek, strange blotches on your skin, certain it's not because of a run-of-the-mill breakout? Well, the bacteria on your cell phone might be the cause says Ashleigh Damster, Operations Director from Cosmetology.  Damster shared the most common bacteria that can be found on your phone and why you should take care to clean your phone more often. According to Damster, cell phones accumulate most of the bacteria from the surfaces they are placed on. The bacteria collected on ones phone can spread to the skin creating congestion (clogged pores) or break outs.

According to Damster, few people take care to clean bacteria from their phones. "Cell phones are constantly being put down on dirty surfaces and I don't think people are effective with wiping their cell phones frequently, kind of like when you go to the bathroom and wash your hands, I don't think we follow the same dedication when it comes to cleaning our cell phones."

She also notes that the congestion or pollutants are similar to the bacteria collected in pillow cases or dirty make-up brushes when they are not changed or cleaned regularly. The skin is also susceptible to bacteria after strenuous activity. "After you've gone to the gym, your pores are open and it's the perfect opportunity for any bacteria to get into the pores of your skin. So anything, like putting your cell phone against your face, is going to cause that bacteria to get into your pores that can result in a break out," said Damster.

However, bacteria on your phone is not the only place where bacteria can affect you, so can your phone's cover. Damster warns that cell phone covers containing nickel and chromium can contribute to allergic reactions. However, much like any allergy Damster notes that it might be found at any given time. She does encourage people to have tests taken to see if they have any allergies towards metals.

Damster also explains that the free radicals (electrons that can damage cells, proteins and DNA) attack your cellular makeup. While she observes that cell phones lights might not harm the skin, she also notes that people should be aware of fluorescent lighting or using the laptop screens for long hours.

To avoid bacteria, Damster advises people to use Bluetooth headsets or use the speaker phone when they can. She also advises that people should use disinfectants to clean their phones.

Five types of bacteria that can be found on cell phones:

  • Staphylococcus epidermidis:

A normal bacteria that is harmless, typically from touching your phone.

  • Micrococcus:

Normal skin bacteria that can vary in amounts on each person. The bacterium increases based on how often your phone touches your face.

  • Moraxella:

Common among people with recurring sinuses and post nasal drip usage. Although it is normal to find the bacteria on the phone, it can cause inner ear infections and bloodstream infections for people with lower immune deficiencies (immunocompromised).

  •  Bacillus: 

common outdoor bacteria that is usually and indicator that your phone is dirty. However, it will not make you sick.

  • Staphylococcus aureus:

A worrisome bacteria that can be found on your phone as it can cause serious infections. Stephylococcus aureus can spread easily between people and surfaces but can be cleaned with disinfectant.

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