MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is a type of staph infection that spreads quickly, is tough to treat (though the majority of cases are treatable) and can be fatal. Learn more about MRSA and how to prevent it.
Here are some facts about MRSA:
- Many people are already carriers. Many different kinds of bacteria are everywhere. Staphylococcus aureus (or "staph") bacteria live on our skin. In fact, WebMD reports that 25 to 30 percent of people have staph bacteria in their noses. Generally, such bacteria are harmless and don't cause problems. But if the bacteria enter the body through a skin opening (like a cut, wound or surgical incision), severe infection can result.
- Bacteria can spread easily. Once an infection is present, MRSA can spread by contact, so it can spread to others through sharing towels, razors, exercise equipment or bathing quarters.
- Certain groups have an increased risk. These groups include people with weakened immune systems, individuals who have been in a hospital or nursing home, anyone living in crowed or unsanitary conditions, the elderly, children and athletes.
MRSA typically causes skin infections like pimples or boils and the majority of infections aren’t life-threatening. However, MRSA can spread quickly to the blood and vital organs. Make sure to see a doctor if you notice the following initial symptoms:
- Oozing pimples
MRSA is diagnosed by swabbing the affected skin area. The sample then grows and develops at a lab, which checks for the presence of the MRSA bacteria.
Even though MRSA mutates and becomes resistant to many antibiotics (such as penicillin), it’s treatable. For instance, a doctor can surgically drain infected skin boils, blisters and pimples to release blood, pus and inflammation.
Vancomycin and other antibiotics — some of which are given intravenously — also treat MRSA. However, some hospitals already have witnessed strains that are resistant to vancomycin, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Here are tips on preventing MRSA from the Mayo Clinic and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Wash your hands. Wash hands frequently, especially when exposed to people who potentially might be ill. And wash them thoroughly by reciting the alphabet, experts tell WebMD. Try L’Occitane Olive Harvest Olive Daily Hand Wash, which cleans and hydrates the skin with olive oil.
- Shower or bathe on a regular basis. Make sure to shower right after the gym, a sports game or athletic practice. In the shower, try Pevonia Essential Oil Bath & Shower Gel, which uses special oils to remove impurities and keep skin soft.
- Cover open wounds. Keep any open cuts or blisters clean and covered with a bandage to prevent bacteria from entering. This also prevents the spread of infection to others who come in contact with you. Also, avoid contact with others’ wounds and bandages.
- Don't share. Avoid sharing personal items like linens, towels, soap, razors or other personal products, with others.
- Keep equipment clean. Make sure to sanitize, wipe down and sterilize exercise equipment. Also, cover the equipment with a towel before using it.
- Keep clothes clean. Wash gym and sports uniforms immediately after each time you wear them.
- Ask to be tested. When you’re seeking treatment for your skin infection, ask your physician to test for MRSA. This way you don’t receive ineffective antibiotics, which can create resistant germs.
- Use antibiotics correctly. Follow your doctor’s instructions for taking your medication and never discontinue use without asking your physician first. If you don’t improve after several days, you should contact your doctor.
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