Cynthia Bailey, MD|December 15, 2016

The quick answer is “NO”. Razors can potentially spread both skin infections and blood borne viral infections such as Hepatitis B, C, and HIV.

It’s easy to understand sharing razors spread skin infections.You should realize some people’s skin harbors germs without any sign of infection. Those germs can become a problem when they spread to another’s skin – no judgment, it’s just fact.

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. It can become resistant to the family of antibiotics that include Methicillin and thus called MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus).

Additional germs on the skin that can be spread by razors include Candida yeast, the fungi that causes athlete’s foot and jock itch, and the viruses that causes herpes, warts, and molluscum contagiosum. I’ve seen all of these common germs spread by razors. Don’t share razors.

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 microabrades 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!

For more important information, here are some related posts:

 

References:

CDC MRSA Fact Sheet 

Fantahun Biadgelegn, Yeshambel Belyhun, Belay Anagaw, Desalegn Woldeyohannes, Feleke Moges, Asegedech Bekele and Andargachew Mulu, Potential risk of HIV transmission in barbering practice in Ethiopia: from public health and microbiological perspectives, BMC Public Health, 2012, 12:707

Eltayeb NH, Mudawi HY. Knowledge and practice of barbers regarding transmission of blood-borne viruses in Khartoum state. Ann Trop Med Public Health 2013;6:80-3

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