Prevent Infection During Chemotherapy

How can I protect myself from infection when my neutrophil counts are low?


Wash your hands often


Washing your hands can help keep germs away, which can help to prevent infection. Wash your hands when they are dirty and at the following times:

  • After touching raw meat like chicken, fish, or steak
  • Before and after eating
  • After using the restroom
  • After changing a baby’s diaper
  • After touching animals

 Be sure to wash your hands the right way. Here’s how to do it:

  • First, find a towel to dry your hands. A paper towel is better to use, because germs can live on a wet cloth towel.
  • Get the paper towel out before you wash your hands to keep from touching the knob or container with your clean hands. Put the towel under your arm until you are ready to use it.
  • Wet your hands with water. Warm water is best. Hot water can make your skin dry and itchy.
  • Put soap on your hands. Liquid soap is better because germs can live on bar soap. Bar soap is okay to use as long as you dry it on a soap bar.
  • Rub your hands together for 15 seconds or until all dirt is gone. To do a good job you need to wash in–between your fingers, the back of your hands and your thumbs and under your fingernails. If you do not wash in all of these places, you may not remove all of the germs.

Tips for your daily care

  • Shower or bathe daily. If your skin becomes dry, use lotion or oil to soften your skin and prevent cracking.
  • Brush your teeth. Use a soft toothbrush and mouth rinses without alcohol. Do not floss.
  • Check with your doctor before having dental work done.
  • Wear shoes or slippers to protect your feet from injury.
  • Do not get manicures and pedicures.
  • Clean cuts and scrapes with soap and water and cover with a bandage.
  • Do not use razors. Use an electric shaver.
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