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Traveling Tips: Staph Infection Prevention

As some of you may know on my recent trip I acquired a Staph infection, and upon returning I had it reoccur twice.  As a result, I have done a lot of research on the matter, and read plenty of articles.  I found one imparticular that was informative and helpful.  Since the article was so well written I asked for  permission to use this on my blog, instead of rewriting it myself.  Thanks to ssssmashing from for writing this article.  I hope you find it helpful.

What is staph? Staph or staphylococcus is a bacterium that is very common and most forms are harmless. The form that is really becoming a real problem lately is staphylococcus aureus, which can infect the skin. It can live in dry surfaces like mats, pads and gym clothes. However it grows best in moist surfaces like sweaty gi’s, gloves, etc. Hot tubs can be a real good breeding ground for Staph. Staph infections can be fatal if untreated and many have had to undergo surgeries to remove infected tissue (trust me you don’t want to have to undergo a skin graft or amputation!)

What does it look like? Typically it looks like red bumps, pimples or spider bites. It can also look like an inflamed boil, may ooze puss and can turn into an abscess. Often if is swollen, inflamed, red and painful. If it looks like this and doesn’t clear up in two to three days seek treatment from a doctor(or immediately if you develop a fever).

What should I do if I have it? Stop working out and exposing others and go get it checked out. Go to a physician and ask them to culture it. Why culture it you ask? If you have a strain that is resistant to antibiotics, often referred to as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), the wrong antibiotic can actually make your condition worse. It kills off your skin’s flora (good bacteria), compromising your body’s natural ability to fight the infection and creates an ideal environment for the disease to spread. If your doctor advises you that you have MRSA, you may want to ask to be referred to an infectious disease specialist, as some of the strains are very virulent and require very aggressive treatment.

How is it treated? Typically if it is caught early an oral antibiotic and/or antibiotic cream or topical solution will clear it up. For more aggressive strains it may require IV antibiotics and possible surgical remediation. While resistant to most beta lactam antibiotics commonly used for skin infections, it remains sensitive to alternative antibiotics, e.g., clindamycin (Cleocin), trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim), and doxycycline (unlike hospital-acquired MRSA that may only be sensitive to vancomycin IV).

How can I prevent it? If you suspect someone else has it do not roll or spar with them and advise them to get treatment. Always take a shower after workout and scrub thoroughly with an antimicrobial soap, if a staph outbreak is present in your gym you may want to consider using a surgical scrub such as Hibiclens, which are available over-the-counter.

Keep your gear clean! Wash your workout clothes or gi after every workout. Keep your gym clean! Mats should be wiped down after every workout – you can use a diluted bleach solution or there are commercial products developed specifically for mats that are a little more expensive. Wraps should be washed and gloves and pads should be dried out as quickly as possible.

Using common sense and good hygiene can prevent this disease from getting a foothold in your gym or club.

This information is not exhaustive, nor is it overly clinical – this is intentional. If you want clinical information you can find some good information at sites like Web MD or even Wikipedia.

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Some great tips for preventing mrsa this summer

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