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Is It Possible to Prevent Staph Infections? How Long Is a Staph Infection Contagious?
Staph bacteria are frequently present in healthy humans. Areas where the bacteria can be found include the sebaceous (sweat) glands, nose, and other skin areas. Because of this colonization of healthy people, it is almost impossible to prevent contact with the bacteria. Most staph bacteria are transmitted by person-to-person contact, but viable staph on surfaces of clothing, sinks, and other objects can contact skin and cause infections. As long as a person has an active infection, the organisms are contagious. However, reducing risk factors such as skin scratches, abrasions, or puncture wounds -- or if they occur, immediately cleaning and treating them -- helps prevent infections.
Good hygiene, especially hand washing, prevents many infections. Individuals who live in crowded or unsanitary conditions, play contact sports, or share towels or clothing have a higher risk of getting staph infections. Individuals who work in hospitals can reduce their infection risk by wearing protective garments (for example, masks, gloves, and gowns). Any conditions that suppress a person's immune response create a higher risk for infection. Hospitalized people have a high risk of infection because of skin penetration by such things as intravenous lines, surgical incision sites, and implanted devices. Keeping penetrated skin sites clean and protected (covered with sterile dressings) helps prevent infections.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/27/2015
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