Germs on handsYou hear over and over again about how important it is to wash your hands because of how much this reduces the spreading of germs. However, no one has really debated more germs being on a male or female hand, until now. Surprisingly, it’s not the females that are “cleaner” than the males.

Men have fewer germs on hands than women

To be precise, women have a larger variety of microbial life that calls their palms home.

A study from the University of Colorado at Boulder has shown that more various types of bacteria live on women’s hands as compared to men’s. The study also discovered that everyone, whether they are male or female, has several different kinds of bacteria and the overall combination of these species is largely unique.

Moreover, you should not be too worried about the little creatures that live on your skin. Most of them are helpful, not harmful.

The research

Assistant Professor Noah Fierer was the leading writer for the study.

He wrote about the research, saying that learning more about different kinds of microbes each of us has will hopefully lead to discoveries that can aid in curing diseases.

The research team was able to use a technique of gene-sequencing. What they uncovered was that on average one human hand had nearly 150 kinds of bacteria surviving on it.

102 hands of 51 participants in the study had 4,700 species of bacteria living on them.

But only 5 were the same for all 51 of the participants in the study. Only 5 out of 4,700! This shows you how little we know about our own bodies.

The results were greatly surprising, as the gene sequencing by the specialists in this study revealed nearly 100 times greater than other scientists’ previous research of germs on human skin.

Fierer said that regular skin culturing technique, wifely used before, may not be sufficient to properly investigate germs variety. It grossly underestimates the extent of bacterial assortment.

Males vs. females

Professor Fierer was astounded by the mass of comparison that was in the bacteria on women’s hands versus those on the men’s.

He expressed how amazed he was that the ladies had such a large number, as compared to the males, and so many diverse kinds.

  • Fierer assumed that the reason for the increase in the variety of the bacteria on women’s palms might be because of the fact that men hold a higher acidic content within their skin and this is what might contribute to the drastic contrast from women.
  • Also, men and women’s glands produce sweat and oil unlike the other and Fierer said that this could be another reason for the bacteria differences between the sexes.
  • Partly, it could be also due to the different kinds of hygienic products that two genders use.

Three other writers who joined Fierer on this study included Micah Hamady of the department of computer science, Christian Lauber of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, and Assistant Professor Ron Knight, who heads the chemistry and biochemistry at the University.

Left vs. right hand

It’s not only the microbial life of males and females that are starkly unlike. Even your left and right hand host diverse populations of germs.

Professor Knight said that they found only 17% of alike bacteria when comparing a person’s left or right palm.

In general, palms of different participants had about 13% of common microbes.

So, there is about 17% commonality between your right and left hand, while you shared 13% of germs with a stranger.

All-mighty germs

Even after a thorough hand washing, some bacteria remained, even multiplied. Regular washing didn’t significantly affect the diversity of the microbes.

Scientists concluded that the germs might have grown again after the hand washing, as well as some kinds are certainly not killed by the soap.

The variety of species of bacteria on palms was still three times higher than on other body parts such as elbows and forearms. Inside the body, the mouth, lower intestines showed to have the same amount or even higher levels of bacteria than on palms.

In fact, there are 1.3 microbes in our bodies for every living cell. Again, remember that most of them are good for us. It is these tiny creatures that make it possible for us to process nutrients from food.

Fierer said we have come a long way with what we know about how microbes affect a person’s health, although there are still plenty of questions that need to be answered. We do know that women hold more germs in their hands, though.

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I think most teenage boys will be very happy to mention the study’s results the next time their mother asks them to wash their hands!


Oh well, the problems of germs had never really bothered me before. But how am I supposed to feel right now? The proverb “the less you know, the better you sleep” is 100% true. I’ll go and buy myself a new antiseptic.