Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Latest Posts

Fungus: An Unwanted Yoga Partner

Yoga is good for your mind and body, including your skin. Yoga mats, on the other hand, might not be. Using someone else’s yoga mat for an hour could lead to an infection.

Fungal infections are common and appear as athlete’s foot, toenail fungus, and ringworm. Unfortunately, the fungus can survive on surfaces like mats long after the infected person has left. Although most people blame the gym locker room when they develop athlete’s foot, you can catch the fungus from a variety of places anytime you walk barefoot.

Fortunately, even if the fungus comes into contact with your skin, it doesn’t always lead to infection. Dry, cracked skin, or soft, wet skin disrupt your primary defense against the fungus — the densely packed barrier of skin cells, oils and proteins on your healthy skin’s surface. Here are five ways to prevent taking a fungus home with you from your next yoga class:

1. Bring your own mat. At least you know what you have.

2. Use an alcohol sanitizer on your hands and feet after your class. Sanitizers with at least 60 percent alcohol are excellent at drying up the fungus and killing it long before it has a chance to infect you. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Dermatology Blog*

Watch Out For MRSA In Your Community

“Community acquired” (that is, not acquired in the hospital, which would be “hospital acquired”) methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections have not likely come about because germs that have evolved bacterial resistance by residing within hospitals have spread into the community. Rather, this bacterial resistance to methicillin appears to have arisen independently. The “community” now absolutely needs to be considered to include the outdoor community. Hikers, kayakers, divers, climbers and all other outdoors persons who share equipment or mingle with the general population are susceptible. From a reference entitled “Diagnosis MRSA – The Clinical Challenge of Multidrug-Resistant Infections,” authored by Peter DeBlieux and colleagues and published as a supplement to ACEP NEWS, comes some useful observations.

Skin and soft tissue infections are among the most common infections caused by bacteria that can develop resistance to bacteria. Persons at particular risk for such infections include males, certain geographies, time of year (during warmer months), and affliction with diabetes. Many of the infections are abscesses, in which there is a pus pocket that can be drained by making an incision. Such treatment is in fact important to help control the spread of MRSA infections, presumably by helping to cure the abscess(es).

The current thinking is that in the setting of an “uncomplicated” skin and soft tissue infection (e.g., no involvement of deep tissues, minor clinically: simple abscess, impetigo, pimple, or superficial cellulitis), incision and drainage of small, localized abscesses can be curative. However, this is not an absolute, so many physicians are of the opinion that adding an effective antibiotic is useful. Until we have more information, it remains the clinical judgment of the treating physician about whether or not to prescribe an effective antibiotic, such as trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole.

In complicated infections, which involve deeper skin structures (such as infected tissue ulcers, rapidly progressive infections, diabetic foot infections involving MRSA), antibiotics are deemed to be essential. The oral antibiotics that are felt to be effective against MRSA are clindamycin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, doxycycline, minocycline, linezolid, and rifampin. The injectable antibiotics that are felt to be effective against MRSA are vancomycin, clindamycin, daptomycin, tigecycline, linezolid, and quinupristin-dalfopristin. Notably, the fluroquinolone category of drugs, which includes ciprofloxacin, is not recommended as an effective treatment for community acquired MRSA infection. The same holds true for the macrolide category, which includes erythromycin, as well as cephalexin, penicillin, and dicloxacillin.

To prevent the spread of MRSA, wounds should be kept covered with clean, dry bandages; hands washed with soap and water or an effective hand sanitizer after each dressing change; close contacts instructed to bathe regularly; no sharing be allowed of bedding, towels, washcloths, bar soap, razors, and so forth.

image courtesy of

This post, Watch Out For MRSA In Your Community, was originally published on by Paul Auerbach, M.D..

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »