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Resource: Skin Care After Surgery at UPMC in South Central Pa.

Skin is the largest organ of the body. Its function is to protect the body from infection. Sometimes the skin itself becomes infected. Skin infections are caused by a wide variety of germs, and symptoms can vary from mild to serious. Mild infections may be treatable with over-the-counter medications; other infections may require medical attention. A break in the skin due to a rash can increase complications after surgery. Many skin irritations, rashes and infections harbor germs that can infect a surgical wound. It is critical to have skin infections examined and treated by a health care provider, especially prior to a surgical procedure.

How to Prevent Skin Infections

Here are some ways to prevent skin infections:

  • Use mild soap or an alcohol-based sanitizing gel regularly, especially after shaking hands.
  • Change wet, sweaty clothes, socks and shoes to reduce the chances of contracting fungal skin infections.
  • Cover sores or wounds to decrease the chances of bacteria entering an open wound and causing an infection.
  • Avoid sharing personal items such as razors, combs and athletic equipment.
  • Wash contaminated items with hot water and soap. Add bleach for sheets and towels.

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