Is it Ever OK to Share a Razor?
Sharing a bathroom, certain items like shampoo and body wash are inevitably going to be shared. But how innocent is it to use your roommate's or partner's razor in a pinch? Or what if you pick up the wrong razor on accident? What if your roommate uses yours accidentally and you never find out?
In short, sharing a razor can be dangerous to your health. In fact, because the ease with which bacteria and viruses can spread via shaving, it is recommended to use different razors for different areas of your body. Shaving always opens your pores and creates tiny nicks in the skin, rendering you vulnerable to any germs lying on or between the blades.
What are the potential consequences?
Staphylococcus (Staph) bacteria live on the skin or in the nose of even healthy individuals. Most of the time they cause no problems, until they cause skin infections or can find their way into your bloodstream. Skin infections caused by staph bacteria include:
Boils. The most common type of staph infection. A pocket of pus develops in a hair follicle or oil gland, causing the skin over the infected area usually becomes red and swollen. When a boil breaks, it will probably drain pus. These occur most often under the arms or the groin area.
- Impetigo. This is a contagious & painful rash caused by staph bacteria. Impetigo causes large blisters that can ooze fluid and develop a yellow crust.
- Cellulitis. An infection of the deeper layers of skin which causes skin redness and swelling on the surface of your skin. Sores or areas of oozing discharge may develop as well.
- Foliculitis. This infection may appear as pinpoint red bumps, each one involving a hair follicle, occasionally with a small dot of pus at the top.
Molluscum Contagiosum. Caused by the M. contagiosum virus, can be spread by skin to skin contact, and certainly by sharing items like razors. The virus causes painless skin lesions, usually in groups and are small, shiny, smooth and flesh-colored. They are firm, shaped like a dome with a dent in the middle, and filled with waxy material. Usually between 2-5 millimeters in diameter, they can be larger and more significant in people with weakened immune systems. They can occur anywhere on the body except palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
- Hepes Simplex. This virus can also be spread via skin contact or through shared items like a razor. Once contracted, the virus stays for life. There are two variations of the Herpes virus:
- HSV-1: Also known as oral herpes, this type causes cold sores and fever blisters around the mouth and on the face.
- HSV-2: This type is generally responsible for genital herpes outbreaks.
- Hepatitis Virus (HAV, HBV, HCV, HDV, and HEV). Causing inflammation of the liver, this condition can be self-limiting or can progress to fibrosis, cirrhosis or liver cancer. Hepatitis viruses are the most common cause of hepatitis in the world but other infections, toxic substances, and autoimmune diseases can also cause hepatitis. Vaccines are available for some, but not all Hepatitis viruses, including blood transmitted HCV.
- Yeast or Candida Infection. When your razor is not properly dried or disinfected after using it, it can easily become a breeding ground for microbes and spores that cause fungal yeast infections and overgrowth. These rashes can happen in the groin area as well as your underarms.
- Ringworm. Another fungal infection (not a worm), this unpleasant rash can also be spread by dirty or shared razors and can spread throughout the body.
In conclusion, take time and care to prevent any razor mixups and you will greatly reduce the risk of contracting any illness this way. Invest in a shower locker or a portable shower caddy to make sure no roommates or partners are using your items.
Also make sure to sanitize your own razor after each use, to prevent lingering bacteria and fungal spores from returning. Additionally, it is good practice to use different razors for different body parts, as some areas are prone to carry more harmful bacteria than others (if you shave your underarms, it's always a good idea to keep a separate razor for the job).