Along with their bedding and laptops, college students living away from home need to pack protection against germs, an immunology expert advises.
“Because students share many of the same spaces and items in places such as residence halls and dining areas, many germs can spread quickly and easily,” Stacey Gorski, an assistant professor of biology at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, said in a university news release.
“The more you know about their risks, the better you can protect yourself,” she added.
Communal bathrooms in college residence halls are breeding grounds for fungi, bacteria and viruses, Gorski said. Students should wear shower sandals or flip-flops to protect them from viruses that can cause warts and fungi that lead to athlete’s foot, she said.
Viruses that cause gastrointestinal illnesses are common on college campuses. They can live for up to seven days on a surface, potentially infecting people during that time. Gorski said it’s a good idea for students to carry disinfectant wipes and use them daily on locations such as eating areas, desks, doorknobs and keyboards.
Soap and water is the best way to eliminate germs from your hands, but isn’t always available. Students can also carry alcohol-based hand gels to clean their hands, Gorski said.
Bedding shouldn’t be overlooked either, she added. Regularly washing bed linens is important, said Gorski.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about college health.