Out of everything going on in college, getting a Staph Infection is last on the list of things we tend to worry about (after classes, “where the party at“s, and man troubles). But the truth is, a Staph Infection can happen when you least expect it… and can be deadly.The strange thing about Staph Infections is that most people actually carry the bacteria on their skin, nose, or throat – and many never get sick from it. It’s when the bacteria gets under the skin that you have a problem. And college campuses are a haven for this bacteria because there are so many of us in one place, and, let’s face it, we aren’t the cleanest of people.
Anything from a zit (as if they aren’t annoying enough) to a nick from shaving can cause that harmless bacteria on your skin to grow into an infection. Results of Staph Infection can include skin infections, food poisoning, and Toxic Shock Syndrome (yup, it’s not just from tampons). These types of symptoms can be treated with immunizations and other remedies.
However, not all of these infections are treatable; there is now a strain of staph that has become immune to vaccinations known as Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. At first, MRSA was confined to hospitals, but now a form of the infection known as Community-Associated MRSA is affecting college campuses. This type of staph infection can be carried from person to person through the sharing of towels, razors, and from just being dirty. By not maintaining good hygiene, like doing laundry and washing your hands, passing on a Staph Infection is extremely easy.
So, for those us living in those nasty dorms sharing those awful communal showers (as well as you locker-room jocks out there who enjoy towel-slapping each other and walking around with your junk hanging out), here are some easy tips from the the Mayo Clinic on how to reduce and prevent getting a staph infection:
Wash your hands. Careful hand washing is your best defense against germs. Scrub hands briskly for at least 15 to 30 seconds, then dry them with a disposable towel and use another towel to turn off the faucet.
Keep wounds covered. Keep cuts and abrasions clean and covered with sterile, dry bandages until they heal. The pus from infected sores often contains staph bacteria, and keeping wounds covered will help keep the bacteria from spreading.
Give high-risk food the cold shoulder. If you have any doubts about the way food is handled in a restaurant, avoid mayonnaise-based salads and cream sauces. At home, refrigerate food promptly, especially dishes made with mayonnaise or eggs.
Reduce tampon risks. You can reduce your chances of getting toxic shock syndrome by changing your tampon frequently, at least every four to eight hours. Use the lowest absorbency tampon you can and try to alternate using tampons and sanitary napkins whenever possible.
Keep personal items personal. Avoid sharing personal items such as towels, sheets, razors, clothing and athletic equipment. Staph infections can spread on objects as well as from person to person. If you have a cut or sore, wash your towels and linens using detergent and hot water with added bleach and dry them in a hot dryer.
Get tested. If you have a skin infection that requires treatment or are scheduled for surgery, ask your doctor if you should be tested for MRSA.