Next time someone suggests sharing earphones just show them this.
Sharing earphones – totally not a big deal, right? WRONG.
We’ve split headphones in transit with our best friends for films, borrowed them off colleagues at work to zone out, and despaired when we’ve forgotten our own pair for the gym and had to ask the front desk for spares. Sharing earphones with another human is the height of normality – just as long as you give them back, of course.
But some new research might make us reconsider being so damn frivolous with our headphones because it’s actually REALLY GROSS TO SHARE.
Although wax is a harmless byproduct of our ear ridding itself of dust and build-up, because it’s sticky and lives in a deep, dark crevasse within our body, it’s already teeming with live bacteria (makes sense).
And using our own pair of earphones isn’t great for our bodies anyway – those little buds cover up the exit point for the wax, trapping moisture and warmth and basically creating optimum conditions for bacteria to thrive. In addition to this, our earphones also get covered in germs from the surfaces they come into contact with (think tables, desks, and the bacteria-laden inside of our handbags) Ewwww.
And Kelly Reynolds, Ph.D., associate professor of environmental health at the University of Arizona also told Buzzfeed US that ‘studies have shown that earbuds cause an 11-fold increase in bacteria in the ears’ and ‘when you share headphones, you’re doubling the microbial flora in your ears and introducing new bacteria’.
Oh, and sharing earphones with your boyfriend or family isn’t going to offer you any protection either – everyone’s ear bacteria is unique to them and totally not meant for sharing, in any case, ever.
Bad earphone hygiene can also cause a whole host of nasty ailments too: Middle ear infections, fungus, swimmer’s ear, blackheads, pimples to name a few. And Reynolds noted that because our wax also contains strep bacteria, if we have a cut or open wound near to the wax, it could also cause a serious skin infection.
Apparently we should be cleaning our earphones on the reg: ‘When you disinfect, make sure to clean any waxy residue off first, then wipe down the earbuds with a cotton ball dampened with disinfecting spray or rubbing alcohol’ Reynolds added.
Seeing as we’re too busy/tired/lazy to do any additional cleaning, we’re going to have reduce bacteria risk by refusing to share our headphones with anyone. We’re doing a Joey…
…Only with headphones, mind.
Hands off, we say.