Updated: August 26, 2011

By now, you've read more than a few scary headlines aboutMRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). Thesebacteria, which begin as sores and lead to skin infections or moreserious illnesses, are spread by direct contact or through cuts,nicks, or scrapes. "The majority of cases are more annoying totreat than dangerous," says Alan Taege, M.D., an infectious diseasespecialist at the Cleveland Clinic. Nonetheless, you'd bewise to defend yourself with these strategies.

  • Lotion up Bacteria can easily enter dry, cracked skin-which is why Taege recommends applying body lotion or cream every day.


  • Lay down a towel at the gym Bacteria multiply in perspiration and body oil, so put down a barrier before plopping onto a locker room bench or a chair at the swimming pool. Also remember to disinfect the handles of the elliptical machine or treadmill before starting your workout.


  • Wash your hands after petting Spot Don't worry, he doesn't breed bacteria, but fur can transport the bugs from person to person. "It's safest to keep pets off the couch and the bed too," says Taege.
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