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Author Topic: I have OCD- what are the dangers of certain bacteria and fungi? (Please help me)  (Read 10766 times)

Offline Kmartin90

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Hi guys, my name's Martin and I'm from Sweden. Before I start, I apologize for the incoming wall of text. Hopefully I'm in the right place though. And by that, I mean, as far away from 4chan as I possibly can get. That way this post won't be a complete waste of time. Though I'm sure this is a very un-4chan-like place. No disrespect to those guys, lol. It's just that it has one too many trolls. Though I doubt trolls go to Science forums =p

Anyway. I've always wanted to start a thread about this, in a forum where people might be able to help me. I guess I was too much of a whimp to start one earlier. And I'm also too much of a whimp to admit to people close to me that I do have OCD. (I'm 23 years old incase anyone's curious).

As the title says, I have some serious OCD. It's nothing majorly major, it's nothing that anyone besides the people who live with me will notice. And even then, they might not notice. It's small things. And it's an OCD I've developed since I was like about 15-16 years old. It got gradually worse, and then went down a bit. Though it was at its peak when I was around 17-19 I'd say, and was the least bad when I was 15, almost non-existant. Anyway, around the peak, I would wash my hands CONSTANTLY, even while spending a lot of time at home. It's gotten way less bad lately though, but by no means has my OCD gone away.

Basically what my problem is, is that I'm confused as to what's okay, and what's not okay, in terms of cleanliness. My OCD has made me confused. My lazyness also makes skip cleanliness, that might otherwise be necessary. I feel like I'm focusing my cleanliness on the wrong areas (or maybe I'm doing it right? I don't know). This is what I need your input on.

What I'm scared the most of, is to catch some sort of skin disease, because of uncleanliness. Like, that's ALL that matters to me. I'm rarely ever sick, so I'm not worried about that. But I have this obsession with keeping my face clean. I prefer not touching my face with dirty/germy hands. Like before taking a shower, I always wash my hands quickly before jumping in. I scrub my hands especially carefully if I've been outside my apartment. And this is ONLY because I'm afraid of catching some sort of skin disease from any bacteria I transfer from my hands to my face.

Another problem I have, is that I refuse to touch ANY part of a toilet seat with my bare hands. Luckily I've never gotten close to a public toilet seat with my bare hands, because I always use paper towels to touch it. If it happened, I would probably panic. Though I'm a very calm and stubborn person, and I always manage, one way or another, to get through tough OCD obstacles, and very often have to compromise because of my intolerance. I get anxiety for a while, but after a while I just roll with it.

I've also read about how doorknobs, public keyboards, etc, are the most affected surfaces by bacteria. Apparently even worse than a toilet seat. But I still have this major fear of touching any part of a toilet seat with bare hands (again, I use paper towels, especially if I can't be bothered to wash my hands- like I said, I'm lazy). So yea, pretty much, I always use paper towels to open up the seat of my toilet at home (and to flush in public toilets/friends toilets).

As to my confusion; what am I confused about? Well, I'm confused as to when I should wash my hands, and when it's okay to skip washing hands. This is what I do right now: I wash my hands after taking a dump, always, even though I always feel like I never get rid of all crap bacteria that MIGHT have gotten onto my hands after wiping my ass. But then I always calm myself down by thinking: "You did your best". It usually works because of the fact that I do my cleaning as well humanly possible, without crossing the line into borderline insanity OCD. Though sometimes I do cross that line, when I get anxiety or panic attacks from touching diverse nasty/dirty/germy-looking surfaces or areas.

So yes, I definitely do wash my hands after taking a dump. I would never touch anyone with a clear conscience without cleaning my hands after taking a dump. That's a no brainer for me. Even my OCD ass can rationalize at times, believe me :P But this brings me to my second point: I don't wash my hands after taking a piss. I blame it on my overdoing of research, which made me find out that piss is sterile, which made me question my reason for washing my hands after taking a piss. ESPECIALLY if my private part is clean. So I gladly stopped washing my hands after taking a piss, because, considering how many times I take a piss a day, washing my hands every single time would make me go crazy. Then again, I'm a very cleanly person, overall, I'd say (but then again, I'm a confused OCD victim). I take daily showers, and each shower I wash my junk/trunk with soap. So is it okay if I skip washing my hands, say, 5+ times a day, after every pee visit to the toilet? My hands get easily dry from washing with soap, so I regularly have to mosturize them.

This brings me to my third point. The fact that my hands, and skin in general, get easily dried out (especially my hands), I always mosturize my hands after washing them. And the process of always mosturizing my hands after washing them, makes the process of washing my hands such a tedious and long task. Which is why I gladly skip that process after taking a quick piss. Again, my junk will have been cleaned in the shower atleast a few hours earlier.

Also, when I'm out, which is something I usually am, I rarely wash my hands because of the fact that I don't have access to moisturizer. So I regularly take a piss without washing my hands when I'm out. But my hands always smell good, and I never actually piss on my hands. I piss in a very controlled way to avoid it. I also, as mentioned before, use paper towels to touch the toilet seats, and to flush. I sometimes don't even wash my hands before eating something like a hamburger in a restaurant - because I don't want to dry out my hands!

Some of you might think it's crazy, and some of you might not. I don't know. But the reason I don't wash my hands before eating, even when I'm in public places, is because I've read, and heard, that exposure to bacteria makes your immune system stronger. And this is something I've learnt only recently, as in like the last year or so. Never thought of that before. What doesn't kill us, makes us stronger, right? It makes perfect sense. Obviously too much bacteria isn't good, but since I regularly shower, as in once or twice a day, and atleast feel like my hands are relatively clean when I'm out, I feel like it's okay to skip washing my hands when eating at a restaurant. Or am I dead wrong? Btw, I cut my nails frequently. I never let them grow too long. I like having them short and clean.

And I stress, my biggest fear is catching a skin disease. I know I sound really selfish. "I only care about my beautiful face, and don't give a rats ass about people who I shake hands with after grabbing my junk." Well, the thing is that my junk is clean, thus clean hands. Right? My junk is just skin, right? Skin that I clean daily. What makes it worse than any other part of my body? I also change underwear every day, so that should make it even more okay, right? Please correct me if I'm wrong. Don't forget that I'm a confused OCD victim with minor anxiety disorders. Feel free to correct me, by all means. That's why I'm here.

Let me ask you guys this: If I go out, hang out with friends, open a bunch of doors (thus come in contact with doorknobs and door handles), touch public computer keyboards and whatnot, use public restrooms, and then touch my face with all those germs on my hands, can that give me a skin disease? Anything that will make my skin look unhealthy? I know it sounds stupid, but that's ultimately what I'm the most worried about; my face. Haha. My BEAUTIFUL FACE! >.<


You guys see my problem here right? I hope I don't come across as a stuck-up, self-absorbed asshole, who only cares about himself. Because trust me, I don't. I worry A LOT about other people's health, and am afraid of passing on germs to other people. Why do I not wash my hands after taking a piss do you say? Well, like I said before, I feel like I'm clean enough anyway, for various reasons mentioned earlier. If you don't agree, PLEASE correct me. For the sake of people I'm around, haha. I'm confused.

What should I start doing, and what should I stop doing? What do you guys do? Any input/oppinions will help a great deal. Some of you might think this all sounds trivial, but it actually contributes with a great deal of anxiety. I dare say to the point where I might not be able to have a relationship with a girl. Which is something I definitely do want.

Thanks in advance all. You guys will be my saviours, hopefully (: /Martin

Good to be here btw!


 

Offline RD

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People have more individual bacteria cells in their gut than human cells in their body ... http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=strange-but-true-humans-carry-more-bacterial-cells-than-human-ones

If your body was a democracy bacteria would be in charge. :) 

Bacteria on/in the human body are normal, bacteria are ubiquitous and the vast majority are harmless or beneficial to humans.

If you wash your skin excessively it will damage it and make it more susceptible to infection, not less.

However OCD isn't logical , so giving you logical explanations as why not to fear bacteria and why washing-excessively is counter-productive probably isn't going to help . Germophobia is mainly a compulsion to wash ... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mysophobia

[ cf. explaining the low odds of winning to a compulsive gambler probably isn't sufficient to make them stop ]

Rather than a course in microbiology a course of psychotherapy seems a better idea ...
http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Obsessive-compulsive-disorder/Pages/Treatment.aspx
« Last Edit: 24/11/2013 03:54:37 by RD »
 

Offline Kmartin90

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Hey RD! Thanks for your reply! (:

I guess you have a point. The thing is though, that my OCD probably isn't that severe compared to many other victims who have way worse symptoms. I'm still able to function daily at a relatively normal pace. Sure, OCD does get in my way, and does slow things down. But what I've noticed is that my OCD has drastically gone down since I was 18-19. And a lot of it has to do with the fact that I've been researching on the net, and finding out the "truth" about bacteria and germs. So it's actually helped me a lot in toning down my excessive cleaning, and general fear of bacteria.

That's why I think why other people's input would help me. Because of the fact that my OCD currently isn't at an insanity level, which should make it a lot easier to get rid of. I'm willing to bet the majority of people on this forum don't have OCD, so just your oppinion on my behaviour, and your input on how you handle cleanliness yourself, will actually help. I know it's a personal matter, but cmon, we're all anonymous :)

How do you clean yourself? Like for example, if you've been out, and want to have a quick shower, do you wash your hands first, before going in? Or do you just go in? Because I've heard how people say "your hands get cleaned when you wash other parts of your body". Sure, but the germs I have on my hand before turning on the faucet, will spread those germs all over the faucet handles and the shower head, right?

Do you see what I worry about? Is it normal? Or is it just trivial stuff that I need to just stop worrying about?
 

Offline cheryl j

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OCD may be an irrational compulsion, and I don't mean that in a derogatory way. I just mean it may be hard to control just by reasoning your way through it. On the other hand, some times the more solutions you throw at a problem, the better your chances of  finding something or things that help.

You mentioned fear of some skin disease a few times. Fear of the unknown is sometimes harder to deal with than real threats. I don't know if reading about skin diseases would help or actually make your obsession worse. But there really aren't that many bacteria or fungi that cause direct infections of the skin. Candida yeast cause diaper rash in babies, staph and strep cause skin infections in babies and young children. A fungi causes athletes foot. Another type causes  Ringworm (its a fungus, though, not a worm) and is more common in people with contact with farm animals.

In most if not all of these cases, infection depends more on the condition of the skin itself than the microorganism - if it has been damaged, inflamed, is constantly warm and damp (like in diaper rash, or the inside of your running shoes.) And in babies, and small children it may take them longer to build up nonspecific and immune defenses to microorganisms like staph and strep. In healthy adults, simple contact between your skin and a bacteria is unlikely to result in an infection because of the natural defenses of skin - the outside surface is too dry, there isn't much in the way of nutrients, and the tightly packed cells, filled with a waxy substance called keratin, keep them from going any deeper.  In addition, sweat and oil contain some antibacterial substances.

When you see someone with an unsightly skin disorder, it is probably nothing contagious. It is more likely to be an allergy to a chemical or soap, or a chronic inflammatory condition like psoriasis, and not an infection.

I don't know if any of that helps. But if you are worried about infection, moderate hand washing is okay, but its more important to maintain the health of the skin itself and let nature do the work for you.
« Last Edit: 24/11/2013 15:49:16 by cheryl j »
 

Offline Kmartin90

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Hi ceryl. Thanks for your reply :)

Everything you write makes perfect sense. And it's actually something I've been aware of in way or another the last year or so, which is what has helped me drastically tone down my overdoing of washing.

I guess what helps is that I don't need to exaggerate the process of actually cleaning myself, as in being overly precise, knowing that no matter how much I clean, I'll still be drenched in bacteria.

But again, please do share how you guys handle washing yourself. Like for example, do you generally not care too much about washing your hands with soap, before for example mosturizing your face? Just give me a general description of how you take a shower or whatever.
« Last Edit: 24/11/2013 19:04:57 by Kmartin90 »
 

Offline Kmartin90

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Also, how likely am I to catch a skindisease if I were to for example touch the floor, wheather it be in the bathroom or elsewhere (at home ofcourse, also considering my floor gets cleaned relatively often), and then touch my face? Or for example if I were to touch the ground downtown, from being drunk or whatever, and then touch my face?

That's the thing, EVEN when I'm drunk, I'm still scared to touch my face if my hands don't feel clean. I hate worrying about the state of my skin.

But I guess that's what you were trying to tell me cheryl. That there's hardly any bacteria (even from the ground downtown, or most somewhat "clean" public places) that will be detrimental to the health of my skin, right?
 

Offline Bored chemist

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"Also, how likely am I to catch a skin disease..."
It practically never happens.
If it did then those of us who are not careful about such behaviour would all be diseased.
Since we aren't, you must be wasting your time (and anxiety) over this issue.

But what you really need to do is not  study microbiology and epidemiology, but address the root of the problem.
Try to get help with the OCD and get your life back.
 

Offline Kmartin90

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"Also, how likely am I to catch a skin disease..."
It practically never happens.
If it did then those of us who are not careful about such behaviour would all be diseased.
Since we aren't, you must be wasting your time (and anxiety) over this issue.

But what you really need to do is not  study microbiology and epidemiology, but address the root of the problem.
Try to get help with the OCD and get your life back.

Naw, don't think I need help. I think you just knocked some sense into me, haha. Like I said, my OCD is nothing compared to severe cases. I can still life my life, it's just that it's tedious as sh1t every time I have to wash myself.

I just got back from the sauna, and I didn't wash my hands once. Yes, I have washed my hand ONE time today, but that's it. I was contemplating washing my hands before mosturizing my face after bathing sauna (because of touching doorhandles and whatnot before getting there, it's a public sauna), but I skipped it after thinking about rachel's post. And it actually felt really good that I could just skip it.

I still feel great about skipping it. And my face skin looks just fine =p That's what I'm saying though, your posts do help me a lot. So I really appreciate it.

Your oppinions and input are worth WAY more than some psychologists/psychiatrists help. I'm convinced of it. You guys actually know about microbiology (it seems), so if anyone knows what I shouldn't fear, it's you guys. And all you need to do is tell me, and I'll listen (:

Thanks again everyone. You guys really are helping me get rid of my OCD already.
 

Offline RD

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... if anyone knows what I shouldn't fear ...

Psychiatrists / psychologists . However if you don't want to risk being stigmatized by seeing such a doctor there are self-help books and computer-software for Cognitive-behavioural-therapy (CBT) ...

Quote from: nhs.uk
Exposure therapy is a form of CBT particularly useful for people with phobias or obsessive compulsive disorders (OCDs).

In such cases, talking about the situation is unhelpful and you need to learn to face your fears in a methodical and structured way.

Treatment involves starting with items and situations that cause anxiety, but anxiety that you feel able to tolerate. You need to stay in this situation for one to two hours or until the anxiety reduces for a prolonged period by a half.

Your therapist will ask you to repeat this exposure exercise three times a day. After the first few times, you will find your anxiety does not climb as high and does not last as long.

You will then be ready to move to a more difficult item. This process should be continued until you have tackled all the items and situations you want to conquer.

Exposure therapy may involve spending six to 15 hours with the therapist, or can be carried out using self-help books or computer programs. You will need to regularly practice the exercises as prescribed to overcome your problems.
http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Cognitive-behavioural-therapy/Pages/How-does-it-work.aspx


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_behavioral_therapy
« Last Edit: 25/11/2013 02:05:08 by RD »
 

Offline Kmartin90

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I'm really not worried about being stigmatized. I've gone to psychiatrists before. I've gotten diagnosed with ADD.

But I will take you guys advice if I feel like my OCD doesn't get toned down. Like I said, you guys previous posts has already helped me quite a bit. Right now it feels like I'm completely devoid of OCD. I will report back to you guys, to tell you if I genuinly feel like I've stopped doing ritualistic stuff.
« Last Edit: 25/11/2013 13:54:33 by Kmartin90 »
 

Offline Kmartin90

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BTW; I'm aware of the fact that I'm probably in the completely "wrong" place. Seeing as how this is a scientific forum, and not a rehab center, lol. But still, I wanted an as un-biased oppinion as possible, yet still informed oppinion. That's why I decided to open up my thread here.

And I'm forever grateful to you guys. I really appreciate that you gave me your honest oppinions, as well as inform me. Most of all I'm happy that you didn't troll me, lol. But I wasn't really expecting that from a serious place like this (: I think it's amazing that you can get help like this from strangers on the internet, just like that. You guys are amazing people <3

Thanks again!
« Last Edit: 25/11/2013 14:57:38 by Kmartin90 »
 

Offline RD

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... I've gone to psychiatrists before. I've gotten diagnosed with ADD.

There is an association between OCD and ADD.

It is possible for the medications used to treat ADD to cause [induce] OCD ...

Quote from: ocfoundation.org
... a clinician may prescribe stimulant medication (such as Ritalin) after misdiagnosing the child with ADHD. Several studies suggest that stimulant therapy may exacerbate obsessive-compulsive thoughts and behaviors or even induce them.
http://ocfoundation.org/default.aspx?id=3043

Quote from: scopemed.org
Methylphenidate Induced Obsessive-Compulsive Symptoms ...
http://www.scopemed.org/?mno=10667

If you are on medication for ADD donít stop taking them,
but perhaps discuss with a doctor the possibility that OCD is a medication side-effect.
[ if the OCD behaviour pre-existed taking the medication drug side-effect can be ruled out ]

NB: ADD is grossly over-diagnosed , many people who are diagnosed with it don't actually have it.

Your first post in this thread is an unusually large 1600+ words, does not look like the work of a person afflicted by Attention Deficit Disorder.
« Last Edit: 25/11/2013 17:25:05 by RD »
 

Offline Kmartin90

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^That makes sense - though, I don't take medication for my ADD. Solely based on the fact that I don't have severe ADD, it's more like a minor annoyance. Just like my OCD. Which is basically non existant after getting some replies in this thread. Though I had already toned it down significantly after years of research accompanied by physical workout at the gym.

As to my 1600 post introduction; I don't have trouble writing stuff, as much as I have reading and listening. If you were in my head every time I read something, or listened to a long speech, you'd get where I'm coming from =p Let me point out that if the subject is important, or a matter of personal interest to me, my attention disorder is dramatically decreased.

I really appreciate all your inputs btw (:
« Last Edit: 25/11/2013 19:29:53 by Kmartin90 »
 

Offline CliffordK

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Typically your skin will have "flora" which includes multiple types of bacteria and yeasts.  And, you are better off if it is all in balance.  Too much washing may be more damaging than too little washing.

Yeast overgrowth may occur in relatively moist, protected areas such as under skin flaps.

It sounds like you are getting past the acne age.  While acne may be related to some bacteria, too much scrubbing doesn't prevent it, and may damage the skin.

There are some transmissible skin diseases.
  • Pox viruses (usually covered in childhood vaccinations).
  • Herpes (kissing???)
  • Warts
  • Lice
  • Athletes foot & related yeast/fungal infections.
  • Ringworm (yeast)
  • toenail fungus????
  • Most other skin infections such as Staph generally require a break in the skin to take hold, and may be caused by your own flora.
Anyway, there are a multitude of other diseases not related to the skin you can get too, and it is appropriate to use good hygiene, without going overboard to the point where the hygiene limits your life. 

Most communicable skin diseases don't specifically target the face, so extra caution with washing the face would seem unnecessary.

Some skin conditions such as rosacea may be hereditary, and can be affected by alcohol.  But you'll either have it or not.

You never touch your face or hair other than washing?

There are many people that do not put covers over the toilet seats, and survive just fine.

Anyway, I'd agree with your assessment, and others that you may have obsessive tendencies.  The big question is how truly disruptive these are? 

Perhaps ask yourself what tendencies you can and wish to change.  For example, perhaps don't wash your hands before a shower.  Shampooing your head may be effective at cleaning the hands.  [O8)]  If you get into the habit of not washing your hands before a shower, perhaps try something else.
 

Offline Kmartin90

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Hey Clifford!

Thanks a lot for your input and recommendations! It really helps!

I will definitely skip washing my hands for my shower today. I've already stopped using paper towels to open up the toilet seat, lol. See? I'm laughing at my hold habits already.
 

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