5 MRSA 'Hot Spots'
MRSA Loves Gyms, Barracks, Prisons, Schools -- and Your Nose
The Main Hot Spot for MRSA continued...
"Our current understanding is that 20% of healthy people never seem to
carry staph, while up to 60% carry it sometimes," Dickinson says. "And
20% of healthy people carry staph day in and day out, usually in their
Most of these people carry the normal kind of staph. But an increasing
number carry MRSA. Why doesn't it hurt them?
"We don't understand why staph causes mischief. Most of the time it does
not," Dickinson says. "But presumably, little breaks in the skin allow
it to get past our barriers. Then it can multiply -- and staph comes with a
bundle of proteins and toxins and enzymes that allow it to do a lot of
So how can you stop staph from getting from the front of your nose to your
"Theoretically, one thing people can do is quit picking their noses. But
that won't help -- studies show people can't keep their hands away from their
noses," Dickinson says.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways to prevent infection with both
normal staph and MRSA.
MRSA may be the latest scary germ to grab headlines, but good old-fashioned
hygiene is the key to protection.
Here's how to keep MRSA at bay:
Wash your hands. Your hands are the part of your body most likely to pick
up a germ and transfer it to an itchy sore, your eyes, your mouth, or your
nose. So keep them clean. Use soap and warm water -- the rule of thumb is to
scrub gently and thoroughly as long as it takes to sing the alphabet song.
- Got a cut or scrape? Clean it -- and cover it with a bandage until it
- Avoid contact with other people's wounds or bandages.
- Do not share towels, razors, or other personal items.
- Shower right away after exercise, especially at the gym. Don't toss your
wet towel in your gym bag. Clean and disinfect any gym bag that's come into
contact with dirty athletic gear.
- Wash all athletic clothing daily. Regularly wash athletic gear such as
elbow pads and kneepads.
- Bathe every day. MRSA can live on the skin, but it can be washed away.
Staph can enter the body through hair follicles, so be particularly careful to
clean your groin, underarms, arms, and legs.
- Be on the lookout for infections. Early on, a staph infection looks like a
spider bite (a red, irritated bump). Don't wait -- have a nurse or doctor look
- If you have an infection, don't try to squeeze out the pus. This only
spreads germs on your skin. Have ALL infections treated by a health
- Practice careful hygiene when visiting crowded facilities such as prisons,
military bases, shelters, hospitals, and schools.