If you carry a handbag, it could be riddled with bacteria. That's according to a study from the United Kingdom which finds that some handbags are loaded with more bacteria than the average toilet, though, it's not necessarily enough to cause you any harm.


"It's not surprising that handbags contain bacteria, but what may shock people is that a good amount of the bacteria is actually on the inside of the bag," said Dr. Leonard Bielory, Infectious Disease and Allergy and Asthma Specialist at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.

He said makeup is one of the main bacteria sources.

"Where does this (bacteria) come from? Most likely from mascara, the eye shadow, blush and other makeup products that women use because they are wiping bacteria off the skin and putting it right back into their bags," Bielory said.

Are they pathological and will they cause harm?

"They do not," said Dr. Bielory. "These are normal surface bacterias. So, of course, women should keep their pocketbooks clean, but there is no point source of infectious agents that have been directly associated with women's handbags."

It's also a good idea to hang a handbag on a hook when in a public bathroom, but if there is not a hook available, there shouldn't be a problem.

"Urine is probably more sterile than a person's saliva, to put that in perspective," said Dr. Bielory. "You may get a splashing of fecal material from a toilet flush and it does carry other infectious agents which can be a problem in high concentrations. But, in low concentrations, it is not a problem. So, of course, I would highly recommend not leaving a pocketbook on the floor of a public restroom, but in general, it is not a point of infection for the general population."

In fact, people are more likely to have an allergic reaction to the tanning agents used on leather than they are to get sick from the bacteria on their pocketbook.