It’s summertime in Florida and that means one thing for sure – it’s hot! We all know the feeling of breaking a swear just standing outside in the heat and humidity, not to mention getting drenched with almost any kind of physical activity. There are a number of things to keep in mind while staying active out in the sun – avoiding dehydration, sunburn, heatstroke, etc. Maybe one thing we don’t think about as much, though, is staph infections.
Staphylococcus aureus, the bacteria that causes staph infections, is everywhere, lurking and waiting to get through our skin in any way it can to cause infections. Staph is one of the most common causes of infection in the world, including causing boils, abscesses, and other types of purulent skin infections. In tropical environments where it’s host and humid (like here in Brevard Country), staph thrives in causing skin infections. Some drug-resistant strains, often known as MRSA, have become common around the country, causing infections that are more aggressive and difficult to treat. Staph infections can occur anywhere in the body, but often start with entry from the skin.
One way (but not the only way) staph can cause skin infections is through getting trapped in skin pores and micro abrasions. Athletes in particular are prone to staph infections, but anyone can get them. When we are actively exercising, working in the yard, lifting, and carrying things, etc., we sweat profusely. Oftentimes, we then dry off and cool off. In the process, staph bacteria can get trapped in the skin pores and microscopic cuts that are opened up during sweaty activity and then covered with dry skin and debris after drying off. Once those bacteria get trapped, it gives them an opportunity to flourish and create the pus pockets none of us ever want to see. Sometimes those abscesses can get large enough to even require medical therapy, with drainage and antibiotics; they can sometimes unfortunately cause life-threatening disease.
Staph infections can certainly be treated when they occur. There are a number of strategies to use, though, to prevent these infections from even starting:
- Change from sweaty to dry clothes right after completing your activity
- Shower with antibacterial soap
- While bathing, scrub the waistband area of your body, which is one of the common places for staph infections to occur
- Wash your hands and rinse your face regularly on hot, sweaty days
- Avoid sharing clothes/towels with someone who has a current staph infection
- Keep scrapes and cuts clean, dry, and protected
- If you’ve had MRSA before, speak with a doctor about using an eradication protocol to avoid future MRSA infections
Staph infections can happen to anyone and sometimes they’re completely unavoidable. In our hot, humid Florida summers, though, there is an opportunity to prevent some of these infections and work around our hot, sweaty tropical environment for a few months. Enjoy sweating hard by staying active with all the fun things we have to do here in Brevard!