I Originally posted this to my blog April 26, 2011
Would you go on a corner and when you come across a stranger, ask them to hand you their shirt or jacket, put your left arm in and squeeze your arm with your right hand for a few seconds and release, then take the shirt or jacket off and continue this with every stranger you come across for the next year? No? Sounds crazy doesn’t it? Not only that, but it’s so unhygienic. You know nothing about any of those people, about their hygiene, or if they have any contagious skin conditions or diseases. It’s absolute madness, right? Why then, when we go to a doctor’s office, a lab or hospital, we are expected to willingly roll up our sleeves and allow the nurse to place the blood pressure monitor cuff on our arm to take our pressure? When was the last time you think that arm cuff was cleaned off?
Well, if you ever go the doctor after me, that cuff’s pretty clean. Well, clean considering how long it’s been hanging there on the hook with the remnants of hundreds of people before you festering on its surface.
Yes, I am a bit of a germ-a-phobe, and really I don’t care. When I go anywhere and they are about to take my blood pressure, I ask them to clean it off. Sure I get looked at as if I am crazy, as if I am obsessive compulsive, but honestly, I don’t give a damn what these nurses or doctors think of me. It’s my body and my health that I need to protect. When your immune system is compromised with drugs, one can’t really take any chances.
So I am starting to walk to the doctor’s office and labs that need to take my blood pressure with my packet of antibacterial wipes and I will wipe it off myself if they don’t want to. I have way too much stuff going on in my body to contract some skin disease left by the person before me. I may be sounding like a paranoid germaphobe, but here are some examples of some highly contagious skin diseases.
Ringworm, also known as a tinea infection, is a fungal infection that can accumulate on your skin, fingernails and hair, according to FamilyDoctor.org. In fact, there are many types of tinea infections. Tinea corporis is ringworm of your body, and it primarily affects your skin. Symptoms of this infection include itchy, red, small spots that can form larger ring-like structures. Tinea capitis is ringworm of your head. It is a fungal infection that can lead to baldness. Typically you can get tinea infections when you touch someone suffering from this condition. You can also get them from inanimate objects, such as public showers (and blood pressure cuffs?).
Scabies is a contagious skin condition passed via the Sarcoptes scabiei mite. Symptoms of scabies include excessive itching–especially at night–and leave track-like marks on your skin. According to the Mayo Clinic, these tracks typically appear in the skin folds of your buttocks, breasts, knees and armpits. It can also be found on your waist, elbows and between your fingers. Scabies can be acquired through close contact with infected persons. You can also get it by sharing clothes and bedsheets (or from a blood pressure cuff perhaps?)
Impetigo is another common contagious skin condition. Impetigo symptoms include pus-filled blisters that can ooze yellow fluid, a rash and skin lesions on your face, legs, arms and lips. Impetigo is contagious because the pus and fluid contain the infection. If you happen to touch it, you can get impetigo.
MRSA, also known as the flesh-eating bacteria, is spread by contact. So you could get MRSA by touching another person who has it on the skin. Or you could get it by touching objects that have the bacteria on them. MRSA is carried, or “colonized,” by about 1% of the population, although most of them aren’t infected. MRSA infections are common among people who have weak immune systems and are in hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care centers. Rates of infection in hospitals, especially intensive care units, are rising throughout the world. In U.S. hospitals, MRSA causes more than 60% of staph infections.