Is it safe to share razors? The quick answer is “NO”. Razors can potentially spread both skin infections and blood borne viral infections such as Hepatitis B, C, and HIV. Razors cut more than hair - they can create micro-cuts in skin. Would you want to share surgical instruments if and when you need surgery? It really is the same idea ;-).
Why is it dangerous to share razors?
Razors can spread skin germs, viruses, and serious illnesses.
Razors cut both hair and skin no matter how carefully you use them. They also pick up skin germs when you glide them over your skin.
Everyone's skin harbors germs. Some people’s skin harbors potentially harmful germs without showing any sign of infection. Those germs can become a problem when they spread to another's skin – no judgment, it’s just fact.
What are some of the infections you can get from sharing a razor?
Bacteria can be spread when you share razors
Some of the contagious germs that you can get by sharing a razor include the bacteria called Staph aureus. It is now estimated that as many as 30% of people carry “staph” asymptomatically on their body. Staph can reside in skin folds and/or in the nasal cavity without causing pimples, sores, or redness. We call this “Staph colonization” meaning the bacteria resides on the person without causing trouble. This is the same Staph bacteria that can cause impetigo, shaving folliculitis and worse. Staph aureus that is resistant to antibiotics is called MRSA. Yes, this bacterium can become resistant to the family of antibiotics that include Methicillin and thus called MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus).
Yeast and fungus infections can be spread if you share a razor.
Additional germs on the skin that can be spread by razors include Candida yeast, the fungi that causes athlete’s foot and jock itch.
Viruses can be spread if you share a razor.
The viruses that causes herpes, warts, and molluscum contagiosum can be spread by razor sharing. I’ve seen all of these common germs spread by razors over my 30+ years practicing dermatology. Sometimes the way they are situated tell it all - seeded upwards in the same direction of a razor stroke.
Don’t share razors - ever!!
What internal illnesses can you catch by sharing a razor?
The transmission of serious blood borne diseases by razors is harder to wrap your head around. These diseases include HIV, and Hepatitis C and B. You need to understand that when you shave, your razor causes micro-abrasions on the skin. That means tiny little injuries that you may be unaware of. This is why surgeons now tell patients not to shave the day before surgery to help prevent surgical site infections!
Beyond the invisible shaving abrasions, we all have experienced that our pimples and protruding skin irregularities like scars and moles can also be cut when we shave, resulting in bleeding. The infectious viruses of blood borne diseases are spread when blood enters a body, like when a blood-contaminated razor micro-abrades your skin. This is why doctors medically sterilize all equipment that breaks the skin.
Razors cut more than hair – they cut skin, spread skin germs, and can spread blood borne fatal diseases. When it comes to sharing razors, even with your best friend - just don’t do it!
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David M Tsai, Edward J Caterson, Current preventive measures for health-care associated surgical site infections: a review, Patient Safety in Surgery, 2014, 8:42