ASK THE EXPERT: Protecting yourself from staph infections

Ask the Expert

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)– Fall sports are well underway.

Health experts warn there could be health risks, like staph infection, lurking in your locker room, gym, or on your team.

As part of our “Ask the Expert” series, in partnership with Bon Secours St. Francis Health, 7 News’ Taylor Murray spoke with a sports and family medicine physician about protecting yourself from staph infections.

“Staph infection is an infection in the skin by the bacteria staphylococcus aureus”

Dr. Nathan Gasque / Sports and Family Medicine Physician, Bon Secours St. Francis Health

The CDC reports staph infections have risen in recent years across the country.

Dr. Nathan Gasque, a sports and family medicine physician, says there are more than 30 strains. Some are more difficult to treat.

“MRSA is also a staph infection, but it’s methicillin-resistant, meaning it is usually more a little bit more dangerous and resistant to certain antibodies,” Dr. Gasque said.

The skin infection is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact or blood and tends to spread easily among athletes.

“They’re often sweaty. They’re often swapping different materials in the locker room, so it’s very common to be transmitted throughout,” Dr. Gasque said.

It often starts out small and you may mistake it for a bug bite.

“Usually you have surrounding redness and tenderness as well as a little bit of swelling around the area,” Dr. Gasque said.

When in doubt, get it checked out because left untreated staph infections can be deadly.

“The staph infection can get into the bloodstream and if that’s the case then usually you’re going to have systemic symptoms, such as fevers, muscle aches, chills, a little confusion as well,” Dr. Gasque said.

To prevent staph infection in the locker room, at the gym, or on your team.. Dr. Gasque says hygiene is very important.

“After all athletic events, aound contact with the other players, I would recommend getting immediately into a shower, cleaning off.”

Dr. Nathan Gasque / Sports and Family Medicine Physician, Bon Secours St. Francis Health

Try to keep the locker room as clean as possible.

“Making sure that you are not using old socks, shin guards, or equipment over and over and over without being washed, cleaned, and sterilized,” Dr. Gasque said.

Most staph infections are treated with antibiotics. Resistant strains or serious infections may require IV antibiotics or may need to be drained.

To submit a health topic for our Ask the Expert series, click here.

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