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The Truth About MRSA

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Resistant staph bacterial infections caused by MRSA have become very common in the last few years reaching almost epidemic proportions.

MRSA is a particular type of staph bacteria that has become more aggressive and resistant to antibiotics. It usually causes a problem after an injury such as a scrape or cut. However it can begin through a crack from simple dry skin. Previously it had been found typically in hospitalized patients. However, the last few years have seen a spread through every community with a frequency that it has turned the treatment of common skin infections upside down.

Staph bacteria have been around for a long time. After years of antibiotic use some of the bacteria have developed a strong resistance to antibiotics only responding to a few remaining medications. The presence of this infection is not new. However the prevalence among adults and children has been growing at an alarming rate. The infected area typically appears as an area of the skin that is red, swollen, warm to the touch, and painful. It is often described as a boil or abcess and may resemble a spider bite in appearance. Early recognition and seeking medical care is important. Treatment with one of the few remaining antibiotics that work is important to establish as early in the course as possible. Often these infections advance to the point of being a boil or abcess that needs to be drained or surgically opened by the doctor in order to get the infection under control. In general MRSA presents as any skin infection just more severe and intensified.

Prevention is accomplished by simple common sense measures. It is not airborne but spread by direct contact. Hand washing is one of the most important issues. Don’t share razors, towels, clothes, sports equipment or other personal items. This can be a challenge when using a gym or people involved in sports teams or contact sports. The larger risk is not from the environment, but from skin-to-skin contact with the wound of an infected person. If you do have an infection, use good wound care — keeping it clean and covered — always washing hands after a dressing change. Take extra care to launder clothes, towels and bedding in hot water possibly with bleach and finish in a hot dryer. If you are diagnosed with a MRSA infection, follow your doctor’s instructions carefully regarding treatment and wound care.

Remember that MRSA is a serious but manageable and entirely treatable infection. It seems to be on the rise in the community. With a common sense approach in partnership with your health care provider, serious side effects can be avoided.

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About Bruce Kaler M.D.

  • Marcia Neil

    A nonvoluntary use of milk products can be linked to the infection — as well as to areas of the skin lacking air circulation.