MRSA: Protect Yourself in 9 Steps
The statistics are shocking. Roughly 5,000 Americans die every year from MRSA (Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus), a staph infection that can’t be stopped with antibiotics.
MRSA is the result of doctors writing prescriptions for antibiotics like they were passing out candy on Halloween. Ordinary bacteria figured out how to outsmart the drugs, creating the infamous new “superbugs.”
The only way to treat MRSA is by testing a tissue sample to see which – if any – antibiotic will actually kill it. But that can take days. When you or a loved one are fighting for your life, every second counts.
Unfortunately, there are more and more cases where nothing will stop the infection. If you get one of these, you are at a high risk for a bad outcome, up to and including death.
A MRSA diagnosis is truly terrifying. That’s why I suggest you do everything you possibly can to avoid it.
Roughly 30 percent of the population lives with ordinary staph bacteria without developing an infection. And two percent even live with MRSA. Healthy people often “carry” these bacteria on their skin and in their noses without any problems.
If you’re unhealthy, though, or if your immune system isn’t doing its job, watch out! Most staph and MRSA infections are found in hospitals or nursing homes, the very places you would expect to be squeaky clean. The sad truth is that these vulnerable people are being exposed to bugs that could be fatal.
Even worse, now these bacteria are turning up in other places. Playing contact sports can spread these lethal bugs. Gyms and health clubs, day-care centers, classrooms, lunchrooms, and tanning beds are all potential breeding grounds for MRSA. Even spas, massage parlors, and nail salons can be ground zero for these dangerous infections.
My patient Wendy came to my clinic with a swollen, red sore on her foot that was oozing pus. Wendy had had a pedicure a few days before, so we knew where the problem came from. Infected tools – nail clippers, scissors, and nail files – are common sources of these painful lesions. Fortunately, Wendy’s infection was caught early and healed without complications.
Not everyone is so lucky, though. Some of these infections have caused amputations and even death.
MRSA infections start small. The first sign is usually a little red bump. But overnight, what looks like an ordinary pimple or an spider bite can turn into a nasty abscess. Then you’re looking at an expensive hospital stay with intravenous antibiotics and surgical drains.
Prevention is the key. Take these nine steps to protect yourself from these out-of-control bugs:
- If you have an open wound, wash it with soap and water regularly or clean it with hydrogen peroxide, then cover it with a clean, dry “breathable” fabric bandage, not a plastic version. Colloidal silver gel also protects against infection.
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water often. When water’s not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Minimize your risk by remembering these three important words: Do Not Share! Never use another person’s towel, razor, clothing, bedding, or other personal care items. That means planning ahead. For example, take your own tools – nail clippers, scissors, and even nail file to a manicure-pedicure, and clean them thoroughly with a disinfectant afterward, even if you are the only person who uses them.
- If you have an open wound or infection, stay clear of spas, swimming pools, and hot tubs until healed. For bacteria, even the tiniest crack in the skin is an invitation into your body.
- Strengthen your immune system with a whole foods diet, plenty of sleep, stress management, moderate exercise, and lots of sleep.
- Avoid routine use of antibiotics. Remember, antibiotics do nothing to treat illness caused by a virus, such as the common cold. If you do need to take antibiotics, take the entire prescription. Stopping the medication early because you feel better means plenty of bugs are going to survive and develop even more resistance to antibiotics.
- Wear disposable plastic gloves if you are a caregiver or work in a hospital, gym, sports facility, day-care center, or nursing home.
- Avoid community swimming pools, water parks, lakes, ponds, and streams, all of which can be breeding grounds for antibiotic-resistant bugs.
- Mix chopped ginger root or a bit of ginger extract with hot water and honey, and drink throughout the day. New research shows that this combination knocks out three different types of potential superbugs even better than antibiotics.
A final word of warning: If you are diagnosed with a strep infection, be extra careful and take your antibiotics exactly as prescribed. Strep and staph bugs, along with a few others, are linked to the infamous “flesh-eating” infections that destroy the body’s soft tissue. These infections are rare, but they are also horrific and can happen to anyone.
These rules may seem extreme, but I’ve seen what these bugs can do firsthand, and it’s not pretty. So err on the side of caution. And please don’t ignore your immune system. Keeping it strong and healthy benefits your entire body and helps prevent these disastrous infections.
Last Updated: September 2, 2020
Originally Published: May 27, 2014