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Locker Room Lurker

Staph infections are becoming alarmingly common. Here's how to deal with them.

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Post-workout showers rock, but as great as they feel on beaten-down muscles, they could have you leaving the locker room with more than a spring in your step. The culprit? Staphylococcus, or staph, is a family of more than 30 different types of bacteria that's easily transmissible — especially in warm, overly populated areas like locker rooms. It may already be present in up to 25% to 30% of the population, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. (You may have heard renewed staph talk a few months ago when infections hit the NBA.)

In most cases, the presence of staph on the skin causes relatively few problems. But if you get a cut or damage your flesh in some way, and the bacteria enter your bloodstream, it can cause a wealth of problems — some of which can turn fatal. Here's how to protect yourself:

STAY CLEAN
Good personal hygiene is the first step in protecting yourself and staying ahead of a staph infection. Shower daily, wearing flip-flops when in a public location, and wash your hands regularly, especially after leaving the bathroom.

DON'T SHARE
Many people carry staph bacteria without realizing it. When it comes to things like towels and razors, it's always best to use your own since these things act as vehicles for bacteria.

DISINFECT, DISINFECT, DISINFECT
Keep all wounds clean and properly covered. This will cut down your risk of infection and prevent infected areas from spreading farther.

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