Since we are all baring more of our skin in this heat wave, I thought it might be a good time to mention skin infections. I’ve had several healthy patients develop significant skin infections over the last year and thought I would address it in a brief blog. We all have bacteria living on our skin - it’s normal. Staphylococcus aureus is one of the most commons as is Streptococcus. Most of the time, these skin organisms are innocuous and cause no problems. However, there are some troublesome strains out there such as the famous “MRSA” which means a Staph bacterium that has become resistant to certain antibiotics. One of the more common places it is spread is in athletics: wrestlers and football or basketball players have skin to skin contact which can spread the bacteria directly or the skin of one player is in close contact with a mat or other surface where the skin of another player was recently, spreading the bacteria indirectly. In this vain, yoga mats (and other work-out surfaces) may also be an important point of contact with troublesome bacteria. As one is moving through sun salutations or holding chataranga (sp?), the skin may allow entry of bacteria. Anecdotally, at least one of my patients likely contracted a serious skin infection in this manner.
A good approach to containment and prevention is to use only your own yoga mat. If that is not possible, please be sure to wipe down the community mat you are using with a bacteriocidal cleaning product. Being sure to bathe after contact with a shared yoga mat may also be helpful. If using gym equipment, wipe down the areas that come into contact with your bare skin before and after use.
Signs of infection are warmth and redness in the affected area that spread, fevers, chills, and pain. Please do not delay care of a potential skin infection as delayed attention can result in more serious would that are slower to heal and may even require hospitalization with intravenous antibiotics.
To your health!