Department of Cardiovascular Sciences

Reducing skin bacteria before surgery

How can I reduce bacteria on my skin before surgery

There are several activities which can reduce the number of bacteria getting into your wound and causing an infection. These are the things you can do before surgery.

  • Shower before surgery, sometimes with a special antibacterial liquid soap given to you by your hospital

  • Don’t shave near the wound site before surgery. Shaving with a razor causes tiny cuts to your skin where bacteria can gather. If your wound site needs to have hair removed, the hospital staff will do this using clippers immediately before your surgery.

  • MRSA screening and treatment if needed. MRSA (Meticillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) is a bacteria that can live on your skin without causing you any problems. However, if it gets inside your body, for example during surgery, it can cause a wound infection. MRSA is resistant to several common antibiotics, so wound infections caused by MRSA can be difficult to treat. Getting rid of MRSA from your skin before surgery reduces the risk of you developing an MRSA wound infection. We will test all patients before surgery to see if they have MRSA on their skin. This is done by rubbing a swab (cotton bud) inside your nose, or your throat, armpit or groin. If you have MRSA this can be removed by applying antibacterial cream or spray inside your nose and washing with antibacterial liquid soap for a few days.

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