Welcome kisses as measure for infection control
Welcome kisses as a hygienic alternative

Change greetings to increase infection control

The good old handshake has been the most common form of greeting in many parts of the world for centuries. By changing the way we are welcomed, we can increase the infection control actively.

In the private sector, contracts are still concluded today by handshake and then often considered binding agreements[2]. However, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the heightened awareness that this ritual clears the way for infectious diseases may have many of us keeping our hands to ourselves.

The handshake is a popular form of greeting borne out of a display of peaceful intentions. Omitting or teeing off this greeting often causes confusion for the other person and is just as often perceived as rude. Kissing on the cheek as a greeting is usually reserved for family members or close friends and is not conceivable as a new standard greeting in the professional environment or when visiting a doctor. But perhaps we should rethink this and change some daily habits for increasing the infection control.

According to a study, kissing is more hygienic than shaking hands

A British-American study has found that the risk of infection is significantly higher when shaking hands than when kissing. [1] Hands are the main transmission route of pathogens, as the hands touch contaminated objects and surfaces much more often than the mouth. Door handles, chair backs, toilet seats, and railings are just a few of the potentially contaminated surfaces we touch on a daily basis, particularly problematic in public areas. For this reason, many people, especially doctors, are already moving away from greeting others with a handshake and support by that actively the infection control. [3]

“Although this problem could be tackled by washing your hands with soap,” explains study leader Val Curtis of the London School of Hygiene, “this seems to happen too rarely”.

Catching up on hand hygiene

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 80 percent of all infectious diseases are transmitted via the hands. And yet studies prove time and again that men in particular often do not even wash their hands after going to the toilet. The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, for example, has observed around 250,000 visitors to service area toilets. Less than a third of men, and only 64 percent of women washed their hands with soap and water after visiting the restrooms.

According to another study by the BZgA, only half of those questioned recognize washing their hands after petting animals or when coming home from outside. Only a third of all respondents considered hand hygiene after blowing the nose or coughing important. >>To the full article on hand hygiene<<

Therefore, it seems reasonable to conclude that far more bacteria are transmitted when greeting by shaking hands than by kissing.

The greeting of the future

Adapting to new and more hygienic forms of greeting is essential through the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, and will likely have lasting effects. The handshake may become a greeting of the past. But before adopting the kiss as a greeting, there are even more hygienic forms of greeting to consider.  Fist-bumping could transmit up to 90 percent less bacteria than the handshake. [3] Better yet, other forms of greeting, including bowing and the traditional Indian and Southern Asian “Namaste” greeting with both palms pressed together and held close to the body, avoid contact altogether while still expressing honour and courtesy.

Handschlag als Keimüberträger
avoiding handshake for infection prevention

COVID-19 – Hand hygiene more important than ever

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, performing thorough hand hygiene – at the right time and in the right way – is an especially critical measure to protect us from contracting infections and also in saving lives. Think positive, practice thorough hand hygiene and break the chain of infection! Change habits and support the infection control.




Shaking hands – MDR www.mdr.de ‘ MDR.DE ‘ Knowledge


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