Whether you're building sandcastles or just burrowing your feet, getting sandy is an essential part of going to the beach. But if la playa plays into your vacation plans, be warned: beach sand can contain bacteria known to cause stomach bugs.
Though sand often looks and feels clean, remember that germs are everywhere. According to a new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, young children who dug in the sand raised their risk of diarrhea by 44 percent. Furthermore:
Other studies that have examined the bacteria content of sand at a variety of beaches that were nowhere near a treatment plant have found high levels of E. coli and Enterococcus bacteria in the top eight inches. In fact, levels can be almost 40 times those found in the water at the same beaches.
This doesn't mean that you and your family need to steer clear of sand altogether. Just be sure to keep sand and sandy hands away from your mouth. According to Dr. Philip Kazlow, you won't develop a gastrointestinal illness unless you actually ingest the germs, so just wash your hands before eating or touching your mouth. If you've got little ones, bring along some hand sanitizer to prevent this Summer health risk.