Hot Tubs & Belly Button Germs: Scarier Than You Thought!
New meaning to ‘navel-gazing’: Scientists study belly button bacteria
You think belly button bacteria won’t affect your hot tub? Read on!
A group of scientists at North Carolina State University has taken navel-gazing to another level. Jiri Hulcr and his colleagues at the Raleigh, N.C., school recently launched the Belly Button Biodiversity project as a fun way to interest people in microbiology and teach them about the bacteria that’s found on skin.
The belly button might seem like an unusual place to conduct research, but in many ways it’s the most ideal spot for germs.
“The belly button is protected, making it a safe haven for normal skin microbes,” says Hulcr, a postdoctoral research associate who leads the project.
Another plus is that few people wash this area with soap. “That’s great for bacteria,” explains Hulcr, because you get more interesting things growing there. (So far, they’ve found lots of Staphylococcus epidermidis, which is the most common bacteria found on skin — but also bright yellow colonies of Micrococcus luteus, and gooey globs of Pseudomonas.)
A third advantage is that the “belly button doesn’t produce any special secretions or oils, such as other protected body parts, such as the nose or armpit,” Hulcr says. “So the microflora inside the belly button is fairly representative of the rest of the body.” Yikes!
“People are always surprised at how much stuff grows from even a sample taken on a cotton swab, then grown & photograped,” Hulcr says, adding that a moderately disgusting discovery their project has made was that “very few people wash their belly button with soap.”
In the nearly 500 samples collected since the project began in February, Hulcr says they’ve found the diversity of microbes you would expect to see on skin — “almost universally bacteria, some molds and fungi, but not as many yeast as anticipated.” (Finding yeast on skin is quite common.) Your belly button is a “lint” trap for fabric fibers from clothing as well as dead skin, fat, sweat and dust the scientists said.
What to do?
Clean your belly button. That would keep many nasties from your hot tub.
Take Hot Tub Sanitation seriously! It’s obvious that a lot of the microbes, germs & pathogens tracked into your hot tub are from from belly buttons. Hot water without the proper sanitation can be a perfect place for some germs to multiply. Get serious about keeping your hot tub clean & you’ll never have to worry about what might be growing under the lid.
The perfect solution for an existing hot tub is SilkBalance which acts as a water preservative keeping water pristine & preventing bacteria growth. Keeps water sparkling with no odors, no mixing, testing or additions. All natural, it cuts chemical use & requires no chlorine only shock. Not only is your hot tub sanitary, your skin becomes silky smooth after every soak. Perfectly formulated for Hot Spring Spas.
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Author: Don Riling
Don Riling is the President of Olympic Hot Tub and has been an active member of the hot tub industry since 1995. As the company’s owner since 2016, he has continued Olympic’s legacy of promoting health & wellness through water.