home buttonour doctors buttonour office buttonlocation buttonbilling / insurance buttonreferrals buttonforms and policies buttonwell visits & immunization scheduleparent resources buttonhot topics buttoncontact us button

Hot Topics

Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus (MRSA)

Staphylococcus aureus is a bacterium (germ) that causes skin infections, bone infections, heart infections, sinusitis, and pneumonia. Methicillin is an antibiotic relative of penicillin. MRSA is resistant to many antibiotics including penicillin. This means that most antibiotics don’t work to treat these infections. We can culture fluid or pus to diagnose MRSA and see which antibiotics will work to treat your child.

Most children we see have skin infection in the form of an abscess (or pus pocket under the skin). Children with underlying medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes mellitus, and immunosuppression are more likely to have serious/complicated infections.

Most patients can be treated at home with antibiotics by mouth. Warm compresses are applied to the abscess several times/day to help the abscess drain. A doctor may need to drain the abscess if it does not occur at home. If the abscess enlarges or does not shrink with drainage and antibiotic treatment at home the child may need be admitted to the hospital for IV antibiotics. A surgeon may need to open and drain an abscess during the hospital stay.

If your child has been diagnosed with MRSA have them take antibiotics as directed. Apply warm compresses to the abscess to help it to drain. Cover the wound because the drainage contains the contagious bacteria. Apply bactroban ointment to the inside of the nostrils twice daily for 5 days. Give the child a dilute bleach bath with ½ cup Clorox bleach in a tub ¼ full with water for 5 minutes daily for 5 days. The nasal antibiotic and bleach bath help remove the bacteria from the body and prevent recurrences. This preventative treatment may need to be repeated on a monthly basis.

The bacteria can remain in and on the body waiting for an opportunity to cause infection even after successful treatment. These bacteria can be carried in the nose, genitalia and on the skin of healthy people. It can be spread from person to person. Spread can be through direct contact with the pus of draining abscesses, skin to skin contact, or respiratory droplets (sneezes/coughs). It can be spread from contaminated objects like weight lifting benches, wrestling mats, and shared towels.

There are many steps your family can take to prevent the spread of MRSA. Wash hands with soap and warm water frequently especially after blowing your nose or going to the bathroom. Cover your nose and mouth with the crook of your elbow when you sneeze or cough. Keep your hands away from your nose. Do not share bath towels or wash cloths. Keep skin healthy and attempt to prevent skin irritations which can allow MRSA to set in. Treat diaper rash with diaper creams to prevent skin breakdown. Children with eczema (chronic dry/itchy skin) should keep nails short and clean so as not to scratch skin open. Patients with eczema should use daily moisturizers to prevent flare-ups. Steroid creams and antihistamines by mouth can help itching/scratching when eczema is flared. Bathe promptly after exercise that generates sweat. Cover weight benches with towels when working out.

Despite treatment and preventative measures abscesses may return. Call your doctor immediately if your child has a painful new pustule (pimple). Let your doctor know if you or a family member has had MRSA when you develop ANY infection.

~ Dr. Barbara Lednicky MD