Does putting a cover paper on toilet seat helps from acquiring infection? Perhaps not at all, and it even makes the matter worse.
Public health experts said the practice of covering toilet seat with paper does not guarantee that germs are stopped on their track.
They believe that no one is likely to acquire infection from a toilet.
"Toilet seats are not a vehicle for the transmission of any infectious agents — you won't catch anything," Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventative medicine at Vanderbilt University, said.
Schaffner said research had since debunked notions that toilet seats help spread of sexually transmitted infections.
The Bare Truth
Aside from sheer comfort to one's bare behind, toilet seat covers do nothing else except it complicates the whole thing.
The truth is that the microscopic-size bacteria and viruses can go through the holes in the seat cover's paper, Kelly Reynolds, a public health researcher at the University of Arizona, said.
Tiny as they are, these harmful micro-organisms and other what-have-yous that can be found in the toilet cannot be stopped by the mere cover paper.
The risk of acquiring possible infections when the skin touches a toilet seat is nil, Reynolds said.
The spread of germs happens after the toilet is flushed. It is when bits of the fecal matter go up into the air in the form of "toilet plume" and stay on surfaces.
From the surfaces where these aerosols settled, it can possibly contaminate the hands and it can spread to the eyes, nose, or mouth, Reynolds said.
To cover the toilet seat with paper makes the matter worse.
The cover paper provides more spaces for the germs to multiply, Raymond Martin, a director of the British Toilet Association, said.
He considered covering toilet seat with paper is "considerably less hygienic."
Public toilets are considered by many people as the playground for micro-organisms that could possibly bring sexually transmitted disease. This fear is not unfounded. There are indeed germs brewing in those places.
These harmful organisms, however, according to public health experts, have a very short lifespan when it is on the surface of a toilet seat.
"To my knowledge, no one has ever acquired an STD on the toilet seat — unless they were having sex on the toilet seat," Abigail Salyers Ph.D., president of the American Society for Microbiology, said.
The spread of germs to the mouth through the hands is still the biggest risk in public restrooms.
The safest way for germaphobes to stay safe from acquiring infections in toilets, Reynolds said, is to wash their hands with soap, scrub it for 20 seconds before rinsing it.