The Most Embarrassing Health Habits

No one's looking—but that doesn't mean you should do it.
Handsome doctor man wearing medical uniform over isolated background covering eyes with hands and doing stop gesture with sad and fear expression

Remember when George Costanza double-dipped his chip? What's funny on TV can lead to serious illness in real life. And not even the geniuses at Vandelay Industries can generate a cure for an infection like Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus or scabies. Read on to discover the most dangerously embarrassing health habits—and think twice before pulling a George.

1

Licking the Spoon While Cooking

Woman licking batter off of wooden spoon in the kitchen
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One study showed that 73% of people admit to doing this! If you're cooking something boiling on the stove or baked in the oven, the bacteria and viruses will probably be destroyed by the high temperatures, but if it's something like ice cream, the icing on a cake or whipped cream, you can transmit any bacteria such as the flu virus or streptococcal bacteria.

2

Rhinotillexomania

man is picking his nose.
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AKA nose-picking. This unpleasant habit—especially picking your nose and eating it—is the most common cause of nose bleeds! It also increases the chance of carrying Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus (MRSA), a terrible infection, and can even result in deviation of your nasal septum. Nose picking is common with some studies reporting almost everyone does it—some people four times a day!

3

Eating a Dip (or Being a Dip)

Woman dipping bread in cucumber sauce on blurred background. Traditional Tzatziki
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Don't double-dip your chip, especially if you get your fingers in the salsa! Researchers found that "once subjected to double-dipping, the salsa took on about five times more bacteria (1,000 bacteria/ml of dip) from the bitten chip when compared to chocolate and cheese dips (150-200 bacteria/ml of dip)."

4

Eating Food Dropped on the Floor

A person pulling a sticky candy mint off the carpet.

The 5-second rule is true only if the floor is clean in the first place. If you drop your ice cream on a shag carpet, don't eat it. If you drop a cookie on a sparkling clean linoleum floor, OK if you absolutely cannot live without the treat—but you still risk infection. (By the way, more people pick up cookies than broccoli.) And speaking of George Costanza, he ate out of a trash can also. Don't be him!

5

Dermatillomania

woman worrying about her skin
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AKA skin picking disorder. This means people who can't stop picking at their skin, hair or nails. This issue is associated with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and with stress and anxiety. It can be treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). 

6

Excessive Use of Mobile Phones

Man Eating Breakfast Whilst Using Digital Tablet And Phone
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Using your phone too much can affect your brain function and sleep patterns. Turn off your phone 30 minutes before bedtime—and keep it out of the room. (Phones can also make you anti-social, as you know if you're reading this on one.)

7

Nintendintinis

Man with broken arm in plaster cast holding controller and playing in videogame in front of TV.
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AKA an inflammation of the wrist tendons from playing too much Nintendo! A Wii fracture is a fractured fifth metatarsal after falling off a Wii balance board. PlayStation thumb is the name for a friction injury to the thumb after playing too much PlayStation.

8

Exchanging Coins

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Handing in coins can be dangerous because they are filthy. Studies show banknotes are covered with bacteria, including those from the private parts and from pets! In one study 80% of American banknotes tested positive for cocaine!

9

Smelling Like Fido

young smiling african american woman in casual clothes sitting near dog while walking in park
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Not washing your hands after being in contact with your pet is a no-no, says research. This is important as pets harbor infecting organisms such as scabies, salmonella, roundworms, streptococcus, giardia and ringworm.

10

Sharing a Toothbrush

couple toothbrush
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You may become infected with bacteria from the other person. Streptococcus mutans produces acid and decays enamel and porphyromonas gingivalis, causes gum disease, gum recession and tooth loss. Plus you can acquire viral diseases such as herpes simplex.

11

Sharing Medication

Two teenage girls sharing pills
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This was prescribed for someone else, not you. You could be allergic to it and this could kill you. Moreover, specific conditions need specific medicines i.e. specific antibiotics. If you take the wrong one it won't help you and you are missing out on the right treatment. 

12

Sharing Sharp Objects

Beautiful afro women posing with scissor
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Don't share razors or hair cutting equipment. This has been shown to cause the spread of the hepatitis C virus, a blood-borne virus that causes hepatitis and liver cancer.

And to live your happiest and healthiest life, don't miss these 60 Secrets Nurses Don't Want You to Know.

Dr. Lee is a physician at Dr Fox Online.

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Deborah Lee, MD
Dr. Deborah Lee is a health and medical writer with an emphasis on women's health. Read more