Handwashing is an essential habit to stop the spread of germs during the coronavirus outbreak, but the rings and watches you're used to wearing on a daily basis could be impeding proper hygiene measures.
A 2018 study from researchers at Georgia State University found that when healthcare providers wore rings to their jobs, the area where the rings sat on their skin provided "a protected area in which bacteria can flourish," the researchers wrote. They also found that people who didn't wear rings and washed their hands were able to kill more bacteria than those who wore rings.
Hand sanitizer could also be less effective if you wear rings. A 2003 study found that nurses who wore rings and applied hand sanitizer, used sanitizer wipes, or washed their hands with antimicrobial soap had more bacteria on their hands afterwards than those who didn't wear rings and did the same hygiene procedures.
Taking off your rings or watch to wash your hands and then putting them back on could also impede your ability to kill all of the germs on your hands.
"If rings are contaminated and you pop them back on after washing your hands, you've recontaminated your hands," Lucy Wilson, a professor in the department of emergency health services at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, told HuffPost. "If you're not going to disinfect your rings, you shouldn't be taking them off and putting them back on."
If you can't part with your rings, jewelry historian Elizabeth Doyle told HuffPost that jewelry wearers should wash their rings with hot and soapy water to disinfect the pieces without ruining them, which could be the case with hand sanitizer used as a jewelry cleaner.
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