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Sunday, November 25, 2007

MRSA and the feet

Passed on in good faith

New Booklet Reveals 12 Proven Methods for Keeping MRSA from Infecting Your Feet and the Feet of Your Family

Pronounced “mursa,” methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is one of the worst infections imaginable—a true “superbug.” But, there is nothing super about it. It can be just about anywhere: on clothing, countertops, floors, carpets, the health club yoga mat, even the high school football; and MRSA doesn’t discriminate. It has killed the elderly, babies, toddlers, teenagers and even healthy, strong athletes. Recently, MRSA has been responsible for closing public schools.

One of the most common places these bugs can attach themselves to us and enter our bodies is through our feet. These infections can start very innocently, perhaps with a simple ingrown toenail, a cut or a nick. You might pick up these infection-causing bugs while walking across the locker room floor, around a swimming pool, or even on your back porch.

Now, Dr. Michael Nirenberg, known as America’s Podiatrist, has just published the booklet, “MRSA and Your Feet: 12 Ways to Protect Your Feet and Your Family’s Feet.

As a practicing podiatrist, Dr. Nirenberg has treated over 10,000 pairs of feet and sees serious infections in the foot routinely. MRSA causes the worst of these. It is so virulent that it can actually burrow into the bones of the foot and destroy them. In other cases, it can cause gangrene and result in amputation of a toe or foot, or even death. In rare circumstances, patients die from MRSA.

Dr. Nirenberg has had to perform life-saving emergency amputations to save lives. Sadly, of those who survive MRSA, many are left disfigured—be it from scars or amputations of a toe, foot, leg or even a finger, hand or arm.

“People don’t realize how easy it is for MRSA to enter their foot,” Dr. Nirenberg says. “Preventing MRSA from entering your feet and the feet is easy, once you know what to do.”

Among the methods Nirenberg outlines in his booklet to keep feet safe from MRSA are:

Check Your Feet Daily

It’s amazing how many people don’t look at their feet, or if they do see a problem or have pain, they shove their foot into a shoe and try to forget about it. MRSA often starts as a small red bump or swelling. It may look like a bug bite or an ingrown hair. There may not be any pain, but that doesn’t mean that a serious infection isn’t starting. When examining your feet, be sure to check between the toes, as this is a common area for infections to start. Also, watch for any blisters, cuts, or open sores. Toenails that become ingrown are prone to infection; see a podiatrist immediately. If you have trouble bending over to see the bottom of your feet, have someone check your feet for you or use a mirror to see underneath.

Parents need to check their children’s feet until their kids are old enough to do it themselves. Children must be educated on the risks of foot infections and encouraged to let their parents know when a problem is starting. Surprisingly, many times in Dr. Nirenberg’s podiatry practice, a parent will bring a child in with a severely infected foot, telling him they just noticed it; however, when Dr. Nirenberg’s questions the child, he often learns it started months ago.

There are several reasons children don’t tell their parents about foot infections or other foot problems, such as embarrassment, fear of having to go to the doctor or fear they will not be allowed to participate in a certain activity, such as a favorite sport. The main reason is, however, they just don’t think the infection is a problem.

Be Careful How You Use Your Towel

Towels are a breeding ground for bacteria and scientists have recently proven that towels have spread MRSA. As a result, it’s important not to share your towel with others. If you wipe down equipment at the health club, do not use the same towel on your body or face. The same applies to a towel that you’ve used on your feet; don’t use it on the rest of your body or face.

Once a towel has touched the floor, whether in a locker room or the home bathroom, consider it infected. Never reuse a damp towels that has been in your gym bag, unless you wash it thoroughly first with hot water and soap. At home, bacteria can breed quickly in damp, dirty towels, so be sure to wash them often. When washing towels, the water temperature should be a minimum of 40 degrees if you are using bleach or at least 60 degrees without bleach.

Wash Your Feet Everyday

Some people think standing in the shower is washing their feet. That isn’t enough. In fact, that could make matters worse. If warm, dirty water pools in the bottom of the shower it could breed more bacteria and lead to an infection in your foot. Feet need to be lathered with soap and scrubbed with a good brush or a loofah.

Don’t Go Barefoot In Infection-Prone Environments

Bacteria love breeding in damp areas, such as saunas, showers, bathrooms, and locker rooms. To prevent infections from entering your feet wear sandals or flip-flops.
Keep in mind, that sandals or flip-flops themselves can quickly rife with infectious-causing bacteria if not cared for properly. Storing damp flip-flops or sandals in a dark gym bag, particularly with sweaty clothes, could make them more dangerous than the locker room floor.

Always, dry your flip-flops and sandals thoroughly before putting them away. The best way to dry flip-flops and sandals is to set them in direct sunlight. When that isn’t possible, dry them with paper towel and wash your hands afterwards. A good additional step is to spray your flip-flops once a day with an antibacterial spray, such as Lysol. Be sure to let the Lysol dry before you wear them.

Whether at home or the health club, Dr. Nirenberg recommends you have two pairs of sandals. This way you can let one pair air out each day, and always be wearing a dry, clean pair.

Go Barefoot When Not In an Infection-Prone or Dangerous Environments

There are few safe places to go barefoot. But, the more you can air out your feet, the better. Bacteria like moist, dark areas, and shoes and socks create the perfect breeding ground around your feet. At night in bed is a good time to let the air at them.

To receive a complimentary copy of Dr. Nirenberg’s booklet, “MRSA and Your Feet: 12 Ways to Protect Your and Your Family’s Feet,” go to his website:

www.AmericasPodiatrist.com and click on “Special Reports.”

Michael Nirenberg, DPM is in private practice in Crown Point, Indiana, and specializes in high-tech methods of alleviating foot and ankle problems.

He is the author of numerous journal articles, including a paper documenting the unique case of a patient whose foot pain was due to a tumor Dr. Nirenberg discovered in his neck. A frequent speaker, Dr. Nirenberg has lectured to hospitals, civic groups, salon schools, and the American Arthritis Foundation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very informative and useful article. We do need to stay alert and on top of infections these days.

Here is another helpful website for MRSA Information.