This Photo Shows How Much Bacteria Is Really On Kids' Hands

Can you imagine the bacteria on his or her hands after a day of play?

Well, now you don't actually have to imagine. Thanks to Tasha Sturm, a microbiology lab tech at Cabrillo College, you can actually see it.

She made her 8-year-old son, who had just played outdoors, leave a handprint in a petri dish that was filled with agar jelly. After warming it to body temperature in an incubator, the bacteria and fungus on her son's hand grew into the cultures that could be seen in an image (above) she posted on Microbe World.

The image is somehow beautiful and stomach-churning at the same time (I need to go wash my hands immediately.).

But don't be alarmed, Sturm told Today: "It's normal stuff that we're exposed to every day. The skin protects us from a lot of the bad stuff out there. The take home message is that to have a healthy immune system, you've got to be exposed to stuff."

So keep living dirty, kids. It's good for your microbiome and makes for pretty awesome photography.

Here are close-ups of some of the colonies in the original photo:

(h/t Today)

All images via Tasha Sturm/Microbe World

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