By ANDREA CRISP, RN
CHEROKEE COMMUNITY HEALTH
The start of school can mean the start of a year of sports-football, basketball, soccer, wrestling and baseball just to name a few. It can also mean lots of cuts and bumps and bruising. Pair this with locker rooms, dirty hands and shared equipment and it can mean a recipe for disaster. There are things that can be done to minimize this risk. This article will talk about skin infections related to MRSA and ways to prevent or minimize that risk.
MRSA stands for methicillin resistant staph aureus. Simply put, it is a staph germ that has become resistant to certain antibiotics. Potentially, it can become a serious infection. About half of the 12 million doctor visits each year for skin infections can be attributed to MRSA. There are things we can do to decrease our chances of getting infected with MRSA. Athletes can be at higher risk because of many factors. Certain sports increase skin to skin contact. Training facilities are used by multiple people. Often the equipment is not cleaned between participants and it would be almost impossible to change that in many cases. Also, players sweat a lot and often wear clothing that can rub or irritate the skin causing abrasions or pimple like areas. A few hygiene tips can go a long way to help decrease this risk.
First, take good care of yourself. Shower daily. Shower after work outs. Wash your hands before entering the workout room and again as soon as you are done. Don’t share towels, razors, bar soap or other personal items. Don’t pick at cuts, scabs or pimples. If you are asked to help bandage a wound, wash your hands before and after and wear gloves. If no soap and water is available, use alcohol based hand sanitizer. If you have a cut or scrape, cover it up. Wear a bandage or a band aid. Don’t pick up or touch dirty bandages. Make sure they go in a trash can. If possible, wear flip flops in community showers. Wash your clothing after each use. If at all possible, dry it in a dryer. Heat from a dryer will kill MRSA.
If you think you may have an infection, show a parent, coach or trainer. Signs of infection are redness around the wound, hot or warm feeling skin around the wound, pain and /or drainage from the wound. Fever may indicate the wound has gotten seriously infected and you should seek medical attention. Often patients think they have been spider bit. If you think you have a skin infection, see your health care provider immediately. Prompt attention to infection dramatically decreases the chances the infection will become serious. Remember, not all infections are MRSA.
Coaches and trainers need to enforce good hygiene. They also need to be sure proper cleaning occurs in locker rooms, weight rooms and showers. The EPA offers guidance on the types of products that should be used to disinfect and how to use them. MRSA can be spread by touching contaminated objects, therefore good hand washing is key to prevention as well as wearing clean clothing and using clean towels. Info: Cherokee Community Health 554-6882.