By Dr Peter Kadile

Dr. K, I’m seeing more of those fancy hand dryers in public restrooms. Are they better than the paper towels?
Lawrence, Rancho Mirage

Lawrence, while hand dryers may be better for the environment since they don’t use paper, they are not as effective as paper towels in keeping your hands bacteria free after washing them. Hand dryers will also tend to spread bacteria around its area because it is also blowing whatever germs are left on your hands after washing.

An interesting statistic about hand washing is that while 95 percent of men and women surveyed say they wash their hands after using a public restroom, only 67 percent actually do. Remember that after you shake someone’s hands. Some people also consider that simply wetting your hands without soap is effective, which it is not.

If you are going to use a public bathroom, I recommend you initially wash your hands when you first get there because you don’t know what you were touching and you are going to be handling your intimate body parts. When you are done with your business, wash your hands again with soap and water. If paper towels are available, use them to shut off the faucet. If you have to use a paper towel dispenser, try and use your elbow on the handle to avoid touching it with your newly cleaned hands. Also remember to use a paper towel to grab the handle of the restroom door when you leave. If 33 percent of people don’t wash their hands after using the restroom, I can only imagine what kind of bacteria live on a restroom door handle.

Since I’m going on another rant about the importance of washing one’s hands, especially after using a public restroom, have you ever used your cell phone in the restroom? Have you ever seen somebody using their cell phone in the restroom?

Whatever our hands touch, our cell phones touch. Cell phones have been found to have 18 times more harmful bacteria than a public restroom. Our phones get warm from the battery and we also tend to store them in warm, dark places such as purses and pockets. The warmth or heat can make them good breeding grounds for bacteria. So if you are diligent about washing your hands, don’t forget about your cell phone! Rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs can be used to clean your phone and there are also cleaning products specifically available for use on cell phones.

Hey Doc, what’s the difference between a MRI and a CT scan? Aren’t they the same thing?
Bob, Desert Hot Springs

Bob, CT scans and MRI’s are both forms of imaging used to visualize the inside of the human body, but they are very different. CT or cat scans are a specialized type of x-ray that can be used to visualize the brain and internal organs, but are really good at imaging bone. The MRI or magnetic resonance imaging, uses magnets and radio waves to generate its images, no radiation is involved like with x-rays. MRI is not very good for bone but very useful in visualizing soft tissue like muscles and the brain.