"Staph," or staphylococcus aureus, is a bacteria commonly found on the skin.
MRSA stands for methicillin resistant staph aureus.
Methicillin is in the penicillin drug family, and some strains of staph have become resistant to both of this antibiotic as well as other related antibiotics. Other drugs are used to treat infections caused by this bacteria.
Where Are MRSA and Staph Found?
Anywhere on your skin and commonly, in your nose and other moist locations.
Incidence of MRSA
Anyone can carry MRSA on their skin (or be "colonized" with it) along with many other bacteria.
Individuals with risk factors include:
- People who live with or are in contact with others who have MRSA
- People with a history of dry skin, eczema, or other skin conditions
- Children with frequent bug bites or scrapes
- Children in diapers
- People who have been on antibiotics frequently or hospitalized
- Healthcare workers
However, many people who get MRSA infections have no risk factors.
Causes of MRSA Infection
Any break in the skin (whether an insect bite or trauma) can increase the likelihood of an infection by allowing the bacteria to enter. Some people may first notice a bump or a pimple under the skin with redness or pain.
Seriousness of MRSA
It is important to tell medical providers if your child has a history of MRSA:
- So they can prescribe the best antibiotics
- So appropriate measures are taken to prevent spread to others
A MRSA infection can occur in anyone. Being diagnosed with an MRSA infection is not a sign of an immune deficiency. MRSA infections are seen in many people with no other medical conditions or risks.
However, if in addition to this infection, there are other reasons to be concerned; your doctor may choose to evaluate your child's immune system.
Preventing Infection with MRSA
Keep your skin healthy.
- If your child has a skin condition (such as eczema), use the creams and moisturizers that your doctor has instructed you to use
- Use insect repellent to avoid bug bites
- Use sunscreen to avoid sunburn
Prevent spread in your family (if one person is infected or "colonized")
- Encourage showers instead of baths.
- If your child is too young for a shower, have them bathe separately from other family members. Your doctor may recommend bleach baths.
- Periodically clean bath toys with bleach and water or run them through the dishwasher. Avoid bath toys that cannot be thoroughly cleaned such as those with squeakers.
- All members of the household should routinely practice good hand washing with soap and water.
- Use separate towels and washcloths for each person in your family.
- Avoid contact with persons who have draining sores. If you help care for someone with sores, wash your hands before and after caring for the skin sores.
- Generally, regular soap is fine for hand washing. Rubbing your hands with soap and water loosens bacteria, while rinsing with running water removes bacteria from your hands. Your doctor may suggest or prescribe:
- A special soap (like Hibiclens or Phisohex) for you to use once a week for four or more weeks for bathing.
- A hypoallergenic moisturizer or Vaseline for your skin after bathing to limit dry skin.
- Mupirocin cream / ointment (like Bactroban or Centany) to apply at the first break in the skin or sight of a pimple to try to prevent more serious infections.
- Recommend that you and your family use a mupirocin ointment in the nose two to three times a day for five to seven days for all household members to decrease the risk of having MRSA.
- Prescribe an oral antibiotic early in an effort to prevent serious infections.