MRSA kills more than 18,000 Americans annually, more than AIDS does. Children and teens are especially vulnerable, as MRSA spreads through direct contact with someone who's infected, or through sharing towels, razors, or other personal items that have touched the infected skin. Thankfully, a few simple steps can prevent and reduce its spread.
MRSA is commonly considered a hospital-acquired infection, but can also be passed from one person to the next in dorms, locker rooms, or other close quarters. It is a potentially dangerous type of staph bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics, which is why cautionary action is key.
Hand washing is always the best option, but when that's not practical, healthy hand sanitizers or wipes can do the trick. Many hand sanitizers on the market may contain antibiotic and synthetic ingredients that kill bacteria. Unfortunately, these products also kill good bacteria the body needs to fight infections and stay healthy.
(Parents can also practice prevention by knowing how to identify MRSA and other staph infections. MRSA appears as a bump or infected area on the skin and may be accompanied by redness, swelling, pain, warmth, and may contain pus or other drainage. A fever may also be present. Upon discovering the symptoms, cover the area with a bandage and contact your doctor.)
Ditch the chemical hand sanitizers that contain synthetic ingredients such as Triclosan and chemical skin conditioners. Triclosan reacts with free chlorine to produce chloroform, a toxic chemical and probable carcinogen. It is also linked to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. And, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers 12,000 cases of poisoning from hand sanitizer were reported in 2006 and more than 6,000 cases have been reported of children ingesting the hand sanitizer in 2007.
Healthy alternatives include essential oil-based products (essential oils are naturally antimicrobial and antibacterial).
Suggestions for healthier hand sanitizers
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