Staph Infection Prevention Tips for Athletes

How can you prevent yourself from getting a staph. infection as an athlete?

1. Use a benzoyl peroxide wash after each practice or once or twice a week.  Benzoyl peroxide is the active ingredient in many acne washes and can be found in the acne aisle of most pharmacies.  Just suds it up all over your body and leave it on a minute or two and rinse it off.  Unfortunately, some people can become allergic to it and it can be quite drying.  Signs of allergy is a pink, itchy rash…if this occurs, you cannot use benzoyl peroxide.  Because benzoyl peroxide is an oxidizing agent, it is not safe to get in your eyes, on the glans of the penis, in the folds of the vagina, the skin around the anus or in your mouth our eyes.  If you are allergic  to benzoyl peroxide, it is possible to take a “bleach bath”.  This is where you add 1/4 to 1/8 cup of bleach to a half-full regular-sized tup of water and soak in it for a few minutes.  Be sure to just rinse yourself off when you are done.  This is the same chemical that is in a swimming pool and probably is at about the same concentration too.  Swimming pools are probably not as clean though.  Dr. Eberting has presented the use of bleach baths in the treatment of eczema (which is often exacerbated by Staph. aureus) at the American Society of Pediatric Dermatology back in 2004 and has been sited by many other sources on this topic since then.  Most dermatologists in the country are now employing this method as one of the most important, safe, cheap and easy ways to decolonize the skin from too much staph.

2. Do not share clothing or towels with teammates, friends, or family members. Staph. can live outside of the body especially if it is a little bit moist.  So, even hanging your towel on top of another person’s towel can contaminate your towel when you go to use it again.  If you do have a staph infection, change your towel daily.  The simple act of drying your towel in a regular heated dryer will kill the staph. aureus.

3. Do not use bar soap. Instead, use soap in a pump or bottle that you pour out into your hand or onto your body without touching the lip of the bottle and possibly infecting it.  It is okay to use bar soap like “Panoxyl” because it has benzoyl peroxide in it and staph. will not live on this particular bar soap.  In general antibacterial soaps that have triclosan in them are probably not good for you or the environment.  There is evidence that antibacterial soaps that contain triclosan as the active ingredient are actually inducing resistance in organisms and may even be contributing to the continued emergence of MRSA.

4. Never, Never pick your nose!  The quickest, most sure way to make yourself one of the 25% of people who is colonized with staph. in their noses is by putting your finger in your nose.  A finger should never go in the nose unless it is covered with a few layers of tissue or toilet paper that has not been touched by the said fingers before it is put in one’s nose.  You can also use a Q-tip, but do not use thy finger!  You will be amazed at how much better your sinuses and the cracks in your nostrils get if you never pick your nose.  If you need a good lubricant for the inside of your nose, my favorite it “Simply Saline”.  It is a nose spray that has NO preservatives in it so you cannot become allergic.  I have also hear that the “xylear” brand is good because of the xylitol in it which may play a role in getting rid of or preventing staph. colonization in the nose.

5. Regular Cleaning of the Mats:  If I were a wrestler myself, I would want the safest chemicals to be used on the mats where almost the entire surface area of my body will be touching.  In my clinic, we use plain old Ethyl Alcohol to spray down our rooms, chairs and counter tops after seeing patients.  Ethyl alcohol has a very high kill rate for Staph. aureus in particular. (higher even then isopropyl alcohol too).   It will also deactivate most viruses and is much less toxic and does not persist on surfaces to be absorbed through the skin later.  Just read the label of Lysol and do a Google search of some of the chemicals and you will soon agree.

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