Tips on Preventing Infection Related to Chemotherapy
Symptoms of Infection
- Fever (over 100.5°F [38°C])
- Redness, swelling, or tenderness (eg, around a wound or incision area)
- Cough or sore throat
- Ear ache, headache, or stiff neck
- Sinus pain or pressure
- Stomach ache
- Loose bowel movements
- Frequent urgency to urinate or a burning feeling when you urinate
- Unusual vaginal discharge or itching
- Blisters on the lips or skin
Tips to Help Prevent Infection
- Wash your hands often during the day. Be sure to wash your hands before you eat, after you use the bathroom, and after touching animals.
- Use wipes to clean places that you touch a lot, like the telephone receiver or door knobs.
- Clean your rectal area gently but thoroughly after each bowel movement. If the area becomes irritated, tell your healthcare team. Also, check with your team before using enemas or suppositories.
- Stay away from people who have illnesses you can catch (eg, cold , flu). In addition, stay away from anyone who has received a vaccine that contains a "live virus," such as the chickenpox vaccine.
- Talk to your healthcare team before getting any vaccines.
- Try to avoid crowds. For example, go shopping or to the movies when the stores or theaters are least likely to be busy.
- Be careful with your skin by:
- Not cutting or damaging the cuticles around your nails
- Using an electric shaver instead of a razor
- Being gentle when using sharp objects, like scissor, needles, or knives
- Not picking at pimples or other skin irritations
- Using lotion on dry skin
- Taking good care of any cuts or scrapes by cleaning them and applying a bandage if needed
- Using warm (not hot) water to clean yourself and gently patting your skin dry
- Take good care of your mouth and gums by brushing your teeth with a soft toothbrush.
- If you have pets, ask a family member to change the litter box, clean up after the dog, and care for the fish tank and bird cage.
- Wear protective gloves when gardening or cleaning up after others, especially small children.
- Store foods at the right temperature. Do not consume food or drinks that are spoiled. Also, avoid eating raw or undercooked food.
American Cancer Society http://www.cancer.org/
National Cancer Institute http://www.cancer.gov/
BC Cancer Agency http://www.bccancer.bc.ca/default.htm/
Canadian Cancer Society http://www.cancer.ca/
Chemotherapy and you. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/coping/chemotherapy-and-you.pdf. Published June 2011. Accessed June 25, 2012.
Increased chance of bruising, bleeding, and infection. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/Treatment/TreatmentsandSideEffects/TreatmentTypes/Chemotherapy/UnderstandingChemotherapyAGuideforPatientsandFamilies/understanding-chemotherapy-common-side-effects-bleeding-and-infection. Updated March 17, 2011. Accessed June 25, 2012.
- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 06/2012 -
- Update Date: 06/25/2012 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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