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Health Information For Parents
MRSA is a type of staph bacteria. MRSA (say: MUR-suh) stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It causes infections that can be hard to treat.
Many people have staph bacteria living harmlessly on their skin or in their noses. Staph bacteria that enter the body through a cut, scrape, or rash can cause minor skin infections. Most of these heal on their own if the wound is kept clean and bandaged, but sometimes antibiotics are needed.
MRSA differs from other staph bacteria because it doesn’t respond well to most of the antibiotics used to treat staph infections. Bacteria that are hard to kill are called “resistant.” They become resistant by changing in some way that prevents the antibiotic from doing its job. Methicillin is an antibiotic normally used to treat staph, so these bacteria are called “methicillin-resistant.”
MRSA infections look like other skin infections. They often develop around open sores, but also happen on intact skin. There can be red, swollen, painful areas or bumps on the affected skin. They sometimes ooze fluid or pus (an infected area with pus is an abscess). Some kids also have a fever.
In more serious cases, the infection can spread to the blood, lungs, bones, joints, or other parts of the body.
MRSA is contagious. Like all other staph bacteria, it can spread:
In the past, MRSA mostly affected people in nursing homes or hospitals. It was more likely to be seen in people with weak immune systems. It was also more common in people who had a surgical wound. But now some otherwise healthy people outside of those settings are getting the infection.
Sometimes, people can be “carriers” of MRSA. This means that the bacteria stay on or in their bodies for days, weeks, or even years without causing symptoms. But they can spread it to others. That’s why washing hands well and often is so important.
A doctor will examine the affected skin, and sometimes will take a sample of pus or blood. This goes to a lab for testing to find out which bacteria are causing the infection.
Treatment depends on what the infection looks like:
These simple steps can help prevent MRSA infections:
Call the doctor if:
Bacteria become resistant to antibiotics when they are not used properly. This includes:
Taking antibiotics exactly as prescribed can help stop bacteria from becoming resistant to them. Take these precautions:
When skin is punctured or broken for any reason, staph bacteria can enter the wound and cause an infection. But good hygiene can prevent many staph infections. Learn more.
An abscess is a sign of an infection, usually on the skin. Find out what to do if your child develops one.
Germs are the microscopic bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa that can cause disease.
Find out how to handle minor cuts at home – and when to get medical care for a more serious injury.
Cellulitis is an infection of the skin and underlying tissues that can affect any area of the body. It begins in an area of broken skin, like a cut or scratch.
Taking antibiotics too often or for the wrong reason has led to a dangerous rise in bacteria that no longer respond to medicine. Find out what you can do to prevent antibiotic overuse.
Cellulitis is a skin infection that involves areas of tissue just below the skin’s surface. It can affect any part of the body, but it’s most common on exposed areas, such as the face, arms, or lower legs.
Impetigo is a contagious skin infection that causes blisters or sores on the face, neck, hands, and diaper area. Learn how this common problem is treated and what can help prevent it.
Impetigo is a strange-sounding word that might be new to you. It’s an infection of the skin caused by bacteria. Read this article to learn more about it.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFM) is a common viral infection that causes painful red blisters in the mouth and throat, and on the hands, feet, and diaper area.
Impetigo is a skin infection caused by fairly common bacteria. Read this article to learn how to recognize it and what to do about it.
People can get abscesses on the skin, under the skin, in a tooth, or even inside the body. Most abscesses are caused by infection, so it can help to know what to do. Find out in this article for teens.
MRSA is a type of bacteria that the usual antibiotics can’t tackle anymore. The good news is that there are some simple ways to protect yourself from being infected. Find out how.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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