WITH temperatures beginning to plummet this winter, people are getting out their best thermal gloves to defrost their fingers.
However, you might want to be careful when you get your mitts out - as it turns out they may be crawling with nasty bugs.
In particular, experts have revealed the horrifying statistic that our winter gloves harbour up to five times more bacteria than the average toilet seat.
An experiment by Initial Washroom Hygiene unveiled the grim truth that glove-wearers are failing to wash either their gloves or hands regularly.
Polyester gloves were found to be the worst culprit for harbouring germs, followed by fleece, leather and wool.
An additional survey of more than 1,500 glove wearers found that 64 per cent of all people wash their gloves once a month or less, and 15 per cent claim to have never washed them at all.
This is alarming as only 30 per cent of those questioned said they generally wash their hands before putting on their gloves, and 44 per cent admitted that they never wash their hands once they’ve taken them off.
On top of that, 31 per cent said they believe their gloves will help protect them from bacteria and germs, and that is a reason why they are unlikely to wash their hands after wearing them.
Dr Colm Moore, Technical Manager for Initial Washroom Hygiene said: "With 80 per cent of all infections transmitted by hand, washing your hands regularly is one of the most powerful tools in preventing the spread of colds and viruses during colder months.
"Winter gloves, although important in keeping us warm, do not provide a barrier to protect against bacteria and germs.
"In just one day, gloves can encounter many potential contamination points - from holding handles on public transport and opening doors to using a phone or holding a dog lead.
"While washing gloves more regularly will help to minimise the level of microbial activity they harbour, the onus is still on the wearer to wash their hands after wearing them.
"There is also a responsibility for employers to ensure adequate hand-washing equipment is available throughout their premises to make good hand hygiene common practice and help prevent the spread of illnesses within the office."
All children from two years old to the end of primary school are now eligible for a free NHS flu vaccine
By wrapping a scarf loosely over your nose and mouth this helps prevent airways from becoming inflamed
In particular, Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and Clinical Director of patient.info, emphasised that washing your hands and keeping gloves clean can be key in preventing the spread of winter bugs such as norovirus.
"Germs passed out in an infected person’s poo can be picked up on someone else’s hands, and transferred into their mouths when they touch their mouths or via food.
"And make sure you wash your hands if you’ve been in a public place like a bus or train, where lots of other people have touched surfaces.
"If children in your kids’ circle are affected, steer clear of them until they have been clear of diarrhoea or vomiting for at least 48 hours."
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