Drug resistant staph infections, also known as MRSA, can develop from common, everyday foot problems like cuts, cracks in the skin, athlete's foot, and ingrown toenails.
"If you have a cut or a scrape that gets infected and it's not healing in a timely fashion, don't hesitate to get it checked out," said Karl Collins, DPM, FACFAS, a foot and ankle surgeon in St. Louis. Dr. Collins has diagnosed staph infections in patients with athlete's foot and even a six year old child who stubbed his toe.
Brandi Johnson, DPM, AACFAS, has treated several patients for community-associated MRSA in her Brandon, Florida practice. Half of those patients were ones who had ingrown toenails, and the rest had puncture wounds, pedicures, and cuts from glass and seashells.
One patient of Johnson's was a teenage boy who waited months and months before seeing a doctor for an infected ingrown toenail. After seeing his primary care physician, who referred him to Johnson, she ran several tests, which showed a community-associated MRSA infection. Since the teen had waited so long to be seen, the infection had spread to the bone in his big toe. He recovered after months of intravenous antibiotics.
"I've had several high schoolers come in with ingrown toenails," Johnson said. "Their pediatricians started them on antibiotics and sent them to my office. Lab results show they all had MRSA."
The staph bacteria present in MRSA is quite common- one in three people carry it. The bacteria will live on the skin and in the nose and be spread through skin contact. Skin conditions like athlete's foot, calluses, corns, eczema, and psoriasis can all be open doors for the bacteria to enter. Waking around barefoot increases your odds of getting a puncture wound or cut.
Some things you can do to prevent community-associated MRSA infections include:
- Wash and bandage all cuts.
- See a doctor within 24 hours of a puncture wound, even if it looks minor.
- Refrain from performing bathroom surgeries on ingrown toenails.
- Keep feet dry and clean to avoid fungal infections like athlete's foot.
If you believe have a foot problem and do not currently see a podiatrist, call one of our six locations to make an appointment.
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