Community-acquired MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) is on the rise in healthy athletic populations. However, according to a new study, greater use of soaps medicated with chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) might help stem the spread of this dangerous bacterium.
Published in the December Journal of Athletic Training, a scientific publication of the National Athletic Trainers' Association, "Evaluation of Persistent Antimicrobial Effects of an Antimicrobial Formulation" showed that using a soap product containing 4 percent CHG was far more effective at killing the MRSA bacterium than was a non-medicated soap.
Given that a number of soaps that contain CHG are commercially available, the specific objective of NATA's study was to determine the antimicrobial properties of a soap containing a 4 percent solution of CHG compared to non-medicated soap. Test and control products were randomly assigned and applied to each forearm of 20 volunteer participants. Each forearm was washed for two minutes with the test or control product and rinsed and dried. At one, two and four hours after application, each forearm was exposed to MRSA for approximately 30 minutes.
Study results concluded that far fewer bacteria were recovered from forearms washed with a medicated soap containing CHG than from those washed with non-medicated soap. In fact, those using the medicated soap showed 95 percent fewer surviving bacteria than those using non-medicated soaps - even up to four hours after the initial use of the product.
"Our study shows that the use of medicated soap products containing CHG will provide persistent protection from infectious MRSA bacteria, while soap products without CHG will not," stated study co-author Ron Courson, an ATC with the University of Georgia Athletic Association, in a NATA news release. "A comprehensive hygiene plan that includes a soap containing CHG, as well as proper recognition, diagnosis and treatment of MRSA can work together to minimize the transmission and adverse effects of this life-threatening disease."