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Diagnose and Treat Staph Infection on Your Surf Trip

The most common and the easiest injury to deal with on a surf trip trip is Staph Infection. If it’s your first time visiting a tropical climate for surfing, then you may not know about it, but for anyone who has - you have to treat Staph infections. You will get nick and cuts, most commonly on your feet. Don’t ignore these little scrapes. Heres what you need to know before you go on your Costa Rica surf trip:

Staph, or staphylococcus, is the name given to a clan of single-celled bacteria that can potentially cause disease in humans. Surfers are especially susceptible to Staph through fin chops or reef scrapes, causing infected cuts, which can often lead to septicemia (blood poisoning) and, which can cause death quite rapidly if your immune system is weakened.

Obvious visual signs that you have a Staph infection are: Local redness around the wound, local swelling and pain around the wound, pus formation in the cut or abrasion, red lines traveling up from the infected area.

These conditions can be accompanied by fever and feeling unwell as well as swollen or tender lymph glands upstream from the area, especially in the groin or under the arms.

Follow these steps to avoid an unpleasant and dangerous Staph Infection:

1. Clean and remove sand, coral, and other foreign material from fresh cuts and abrasions.

2. Dress wound with clean or preferably sterile packaged gauze with betadine. You can apply 100-percent tea tree (melaleuca) oil. It’s a good, skin-friendly, safe substitute. You can also use lime juice in a pinch if you’re a masochist.

3. Protect cuts and grazes with waterproof sterile dressings like Duoderm and Tegaderm.

4. Don’t keep surfing with open wounds, especially in the tropics - and yes, that includes Costa Rica.

One of the worst Staph infections I’ve seen belonged to this coked-out dealer guy in Mal Pais. He was camping on the beach next to where my tent was set up, and was pretty friendly so we ended up chatting quite a bit even though we were there for two completely different reasons. he had a 6″ gash on his forearm that was all pussy and red around the edges. He had fallen off a motorcycle a couple weeks earlier and since then, had continued to party and ignore his wound. I gave him a tube of polysporin and some gauze. He was thankful and after a couple days the gash looked slightly better. The day I left he went surfing with his wound still totally open and irritated. I just shook my head. I wonder if he made it.

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