Picture it, you found a beautiful vintage coat in what is considered an excellent used condition in the thrift store, you try it on and within the next couple of weeks develop a severe rash and itch. You go to the doctor to find out what it is and discover you have scabies.
If you’re itching just reading that we’re in the same boat because I’m itching as writing!
While thrifting is one of my all-time favorite past times, it is not without its own set of problems and one of them being transmissible diseases and parasites.
Ugh, the horror! To think that you could be putting your health at risk just by shopping second-hand. There is a new study that shows just that.
Some of the possible culprits are
- Fungal diseases
- Bed bugs
In case you want to know more about the study it took place in Iran and they took 800 second-hand clothes (400 washed and 400 unwashed) and used tape to determine the prevalence of parasites.
From the 800 pieces of clothing 22 were positive for parasites and ectoparasite contamination (2.7%). Which is a small amount, but still why risk it right?
The parasites included
- Scabies (Sarcoptes Scabiei) 6 (0.75%)
- Pediculus eggs 6 were seen
Jeans showed the highest contamination rate and the highest contamination rates were observed in male clothing and the least in kids clothing. See the table below from the study
|N(%)||298 (37.3)||276 (34.5)||226 (28.3)||85 (10.6)||40 (5)||162 (20.3)||152 (19)||105 (13.1)||32 (4)||102 (12.8)||54 (6.8)||28 (3.5)||28 (3.5)||12 (1.5)|
|Pediculus spp. ova||1||2||3||1||1||0||0||1||2||0||0||0||0||1|
You may be thinking about giving up thrifting after reading the article but it is important to note that there are ways to prevent (most) of the transmission of any of these diseases
1. Washing & drying
Sanitation plays a significant role in secondhand shopping, make sure you’re washing your clothes as soon as you get them home and dry them on high heat if possible.
If they can not be hand washed or washed in the washing machine take them to the cleaners or hang dry them in the sun if the dryer will be too much heat for them.
It is important to note that no contamination was observed in the washed clothing.
2. Trying clothes on
Refrain from trying clothes on in the store, especially against bare skin. If you can, wear a tighter outfit to shop in so you can try things on over it and sanitize it after.
Before placing the items in your car (preferably while still in the store) check them out visually extremely well for signs of any bugs or weird stains.
While many of the smaller insects like mites and eggs you won’t be able to see at least you can do your due diligence while in the store. This also goes for furniture.
As of now, there is only one documented study done in Iran on the information on the probable risk of transmissible pathogens due to thrift clothes, however, it is always better to be safe than infested!
Read THIS ARTICLE to learn tips and secrets to keeping bugs out of your thrift finds!