Staph infections are caused by Staphylococcus bacteria, which is where the term, "staph," originates from. This bacteria is commonly carried by some people around the mouth, nose, genitals or the anus. A staph infection usually starts from a wound that becomes infected. The severity of a staph infection can range from minor boils or cellulitis, which is redness and swelling on the surface of the skin, to major infections that are even classified as "flesh-eating."
How Staph Infections Spread
Staph infections start when an open wound becomes infected by staph bacteria. It can be transferred from person to person due to poor hygiene and it can also spread through contaminated surfaces. This makes feet a highly susceptible area for staph infection, especially when people walk barefoot on bacteria filled surfaces like in the locker room or public restroom.
Ways to Prevent Staph Infection
- Wash your hands: Staph infections are one of the main reasons why it is so important to frequently wash your hands. Use hot water and soap, and make sure you do a thorough job. A quick splash of water does not equate to clean hands.
- Hand sanitizer: Always carry hand sanitizer whenever possible. Keep it in your purse, your school bag, briefcase or in your car. Hand sanitizer is very useful when soap and water aren't available. You'll often see hand sanitizer dispensers in public areas like the gym or the mall; don't be afraid to use them!
- Keep away from other people's wounds: Avoid cuts and wounds on other individuals, especially if they are infected by Staph. The infection can be very contagious and can easily spread if you come in contact with the wound, or any liquid or pus from the wound.
- Properly treat your own wounds: Make sure any cuts or wounds on your body are kept clean and bandaged properly until they are fully healed. Walking around with an open wound is an invitation for Staph bacteria to enter the wound and infect it. This can either occur from contact with someone with staph infection, or a contaminated object or surface.
- Do not share personal items: Soap, razors, ointments and towels being shared with others puts you at a greater risk of developing a staph infection. If you loan a towel to a friend who has a staph infection, and some of the fluids or pus from the wound wipe onto your towel, it becomes contaminated. If you use the towel again before washing it, and it touches a wound of your own, it's highly likely that you'll develop a staph infection as well.
- Disinfect areas that can easily be contaminated: Lockers, gym and athletic equipment, and bathrooms are areas that are filled with germs. Use disinfectant cleaners, sprays and wipes as often as possible and be mindful of the bacteria in such areas. If you plan on using a public shower, like in a gym locker room, make sure you wear slippers or some other type of cover for your feet.
- Avoid shared athletic equipment: Athletes are at a high risk for developing a staph infection because of the amount of bacteria that can be transferred through a piece of equipment. Avoid any loaner equipment like helmets, gloves, shoes or pads. If loaner equipment must be used, make sure it is sprayed and wiped down with disinfectant spray and wipes.
- Wash anything that has a higher possibility of carrying Staph bacteria immediately: Gym clothes, athletic apparel and clothing used in a hospital setting should be washed with hot water as soon as possible. This reduces the risk of developing a staph infection due to contaminated clothing.
- Visit the doctor: Don't be afraid of paying a visit to the doctor if you feel there is a possibility you have a staph infection. Do not try to drain the liquid from a sore or boil yourself. If you notice that staph infections are being spread from one family member to another, notify your physician immediately.
- Drink plenty of water: Try to drink anywhere between eight to ten glasses of water each day to help flush out bacteria from your body. Consuming more water each day also has many other health benefits.
Staph Infection Treatment
The easiest way to prevent staph infection is to practice good personal hygiene. Should you or a family member develop a staph infection, you can easily treat it with antibacterial cleanser and by keeping it clean. Remember to change the wound dressing to keep it dry and apply any doctor prescribed antibiotic medicine.