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Does long term use of steroids affect a person's immune system?

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Posted on Fri, 26 May 2017
Question: My friend, age 84 has been receiving prednisone for about two years for an autoimune blood disease which is under control but his wife has two small dogs who are super hyper and have left his forearms deeply gouged. I am an old biology teacher and worry that if his immune system is compromised he could easily decelop a serious infection. Other than finding a calm pet or a new wife, do you suggest antibiotic soaps, salves or whatever that might reduce his risk (if there is a risk here). Thanks, a concerned friend.
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Answered by Dr. Ornela Ademovi (1 hour later)
Brief Answer:
Preventive measures for the immunosuppressed

Detailed Answer:
Hello
I understand your concern and I commend you for being such a good friend. At 84 the immune system is already weakened and a long term use of steroids can seriously affect it further leaving one prone to all kinds of infections.
Rubbing soaps on the broken skin, not only kills bacteria but also eliminates spores, which are bacterial eggs and which are usually very resistant.
Wrapping his forearms in gauze soaked in antibiotic ointment or witch XXXXXXX can be an effective way to disinfect and protect the skin. Also wearing a long sleeve shirt can help.
Refraining from foods such as unpasteurized milk and its products and raw eggs is also a must in immunosuppressed people.
Regular cleaning of water filters such as AC and humidifiers is also a very important measure to prevent pneumonia in the immunosupressed.
Vitamin C helps in boosting the immune system and in skin regeneration.
Good hydration is also very important.
And off course staying away from that overactive dog is the best.
At the first sign of a fever of general ill feeling your friend should see a doctor.
I hope this helps
Wishing you all the best

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Remy Koshy
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Answered by
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Dr. Ornela Ademovi

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :2004

Answered : 738 Questions

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Does long term use of steroids affect a person's immune system?

Brief Answer: Preventive measures for the immunosuppressed Detailed Answer: Hello I understand your concern and I commend you for being such a good friend. At 84 the immune system is already weakened and a long term use of steroids can seriously affect it further leaving one prone to all kinds of infections. Rubbing soaps on the broken skin, not only kills bacteria but also eliminates spores, which are bacterial eggs and which are usually very resistant. Wrapping his forearms in gauze soaked in antibiotic ointment or witch XXXXXXX can be an effective way to disinfect and protect the skin. Also wearing a long sleeve shirt can help. Refraining from foods such as unpasteurized milk and its products and raw eggs is also a must in immunosuppressed people. Regular cleaning of water filters such as AC and humidifiers is also a very important measure to prevent pneumonia in the immunosupressed. Vitamin C helps in boosting the immune system and in skin regeneration. Good hydration is also very important. And off course staying away from that overactive dog is the best. At the first sign of a fever of general ill feeling your friend should see a doctor. I hope this helps Wishing you all the best