Staphylococcus bacteria are very hardy and able to withstand extreme temperatures, dryness, high levels of salt, and can live on inanimate objects such as towels or pillow cases. Because of this, staph infections are highly contagious. Even though most staph infections are not life-threatening, some strains of the infection may be very dangerous. For this reason, it is important to know how to protect yourself against this bacterium. Here are some tips for keeping a staph infection at bay.
Wash your hands.
Washing your hands thoroughly and often is the best way to defend yourself against germs like staph bacteria. Any time you touch things in public places, wash your hands with warm water for 15 to 30 seconds and dry them with a disposable towel. Hand sanitizer that is at least 62% alcohol will also work if you are unable to physically wash your hands.
Don’t share personal items.
It is very common for staph bacteria to spread throughout a common area such as a locker room or dormitory. Since staph bacteria can survive on inanimate objects, make sure you avoid sharing any personal items with anyone else. This includes razors, clothes, athletic equipment, sheets, and towels.
Keep wounds covered.
If you have any open wounds, you have to take extra care to make sure they don’t become infected with staph bacteria. Keep any cuts and abrasions clean and covered with dry, sterile bandages until they are completely healed. If you do have pus in an infected sore, it often contains staph bacteria. Keep infected wounds covered as well to prevent spreading to infection to others.
Wash laundry in hot water.
Although staph bacteria can survive on clothing and bedding, they cannot survive being washed in hot water. Wash any clothing and sheets with hot water as often as possible to kill any bacteria that might be living on them. It also helps to use bleach with clothes and sheets that are bleach-safe. The dryer may not kill all present staph bacteria, but drying clothes with this method will still be better than air-drying.
Reduce toxic shock risk.
Toxic shock syndrome is a condition that results from the toxins that are produced by some strains of staph bacteria. When tampons are left in for too long, they become a breeding ground for staph bacteria to grow and thrive. To reduce this risk as much as possible, make sure to change tampons frequently—at least every 6 to 8 hours—and use the lowest absorbency tampons available. Also, alternate between using tampons and sanitary napkins as often as possible.
Use antibiotics sparingly.
If you do have a staph infection, your doctor will probably perform a test to determine which strain of staph is causing the infection in order to choose the correct antibiotic to treat it. However, there are many varieties of staph that have become resistant to one or more antibiotics. To prevent staph bacteria from becoming more antibiotic-resistant, antibiotics should only be used to treat infections that truly need them to get better.