So yeah...about 2 weeks ago, after having a little sore spot under my nose rapidly turn into a painful, swollen face and 100 degree fever (while taking Advil), I was informed I had a MRSA infection in my face (which, since martial arts practitioners are in one of the high risk groups for community acquired MRSA infections--I was told that was probably the source), sent to the ER for IV antibiotics and put on quarantine from kids and old people. Interestingly, I found out that MRSA is treated empirically, with no tests, but, thankfully, my dermatologist did a nasal culture and it turned out to be klebsiella, the bacteria responsible for pneumonia and many lower respiratory infections. Thankfully it responded to the treatment for MRSA.*
Needless to say, at the time, I was pretty freaked out. I had one of those quiet, reflective moments in the ER. I found myself, sitting crossed leg on a hospital bed once again, reconsidering training and praying over my decision, health and calmness. Oddly, it was an enjoyable visit. The people there were a lot of fun, patient, informative and everybody, techs, doctors, clerks and nurses alike, had a great bedside manner while performing their jobs professionally.
I immediately started reassessing some of my behavior, and decided to lay off the triclosan based anti-bacterial products. As to not contribute to the problem of resistant-bacteria strains, I'd laid off the hibiclens long ago, using only in the case of open wounds. I started using just anti-bacterial soap after training, but after this roller coaster, I'm done with that too. I'd been pondering switching over to Defense Soap, but hadn't since my current routine was working fine.
After checking out some of the products, I contacted the creator/owner, Guy Sako, and he was great. Amazing customer service to say the least. He sent me samples of some of the bar, body wash and wipes. I didn't have to do much research on the two main ingredients in most of the Defense Soap line of products. They're based on tea tree and eucalyptus oils, which, from my days of lotion and hair product making, I already knew had anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties without giving rise to resistant strains.
So I was psyched at the chance to use it after coming back from my 2 week quarantine--which, by the way, was really nice. I came back to an open mat night and was beyond glad to be back. I sat down to stretch and two of the ladies I've been training with forever were there...it was so good to see them, the kids, the guys, everybody. I expected to be terrified, but instead my soul smiled and breathed a sigh of relief.
I'd packed the wipes to use after class and was excited (I do love new products that work). I skipped off to the restroom and opened the container. They smelled exactly as I'd expected...the scent might be a little strong/medicinal for some people, but it's not at all unpleasant. I walked back out to the changing area to chat some more, and immediately..."what's that smell?" "It's me. I'm trying some new stuff after all this infection drama."
Let me just say, I LOVE the body wash. It has the tea tree and eucalyptus, but also has coconut oil. Do a search on Google, and you'll find a bunch of body washes in the beauty sector marketed with similar ingredients, which explains why my hair felt soft and moisturized after using it...yes...I always use whatever I'm de-funking my body with on my hair too...it's a veritable sponge and I can't imagine what could end up hiding in it.
I'll definitely be picking up the barrier foam next. I haven't tried the bar yet, but overall, I feel normal-clean after using it. I told a friend a few weeks back, after time off because of toe issues, that I felt "fat and clean". It may be completely mental (I'm pretty germ-aware), but I feel like there's always a little something extra hanging out on me while I'm training. But yeah, I'd definitely recommend at least giving Defense Soap a try.
Check out this surprisingly funny TED talk on the future of antibiotic development. It's interesting, informative, and personal, since the speaker lost a friend and colleague to the infections he's researching to fight off.
*I have a theory on how this came about. While it's entirely possible that I picked it up spontaneously from the gym, it was odd that it showed up in an area where I had no cuts or abrasions. About a week before I noticed the issue, I'd started using Protpic (topical immunosupressant) for a skin condition in the exact spot where the sore spot showed up. I looked up the side effects, and one was skin infections. My dermatologist (and the ER doc) immediately and logically assumed that if I'd had MRSA, it had come from the gym. Since I didn't though, she was unsure of where it came from. Klebsiella is pretty common, but it frustrates me that I won't ever 100% know where I picked it up. Needless to say, I've stopped use of the Protopic.