MRSA in Children

image001MRSA infections affect the skin and these infections are more difficult to treat, mainly because the bacteria responsible are resistant to antibiotics that treat staph infections. While most patients heal from the infections with proper care, over 90,000 Americans suffer from serious infections every year as a result of the drug resistant staph bacteria. The germ responsible is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus known by the initials MRSA and is resistant to major antibiotics, penicillin included.

These infections are said to have initially originated from nursing homes and hospitals, but a new drug resistant staph is now developing outside these clinical settings. It is now being referred to as the community acquired MRSA and just like the clinical MRSA, it is life threatening especially when it spreads from the skin onto other organs.

What Is MRSA in Children?

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA is a staph bacterium which is common. In fact, most of us have this bacteria present in our skins and noses. The bacterium enters the body through openings such as a cut or rash and while it causes a skin infection, most of the infections are minor and heal on their own with proper care and medication. The MRSA strain is however quite different from other types of staph bacteria due to its antibiotic resistant nature. This makes the infections harder to treat.

There are different reasons why certain types of bacteria are drug resistant and this could be due to improper use of antibiotics either by taking them for the wrong reasons or, not following proper dosage. Luckily, these infections are uncommon in children.

Want to know more about MRSA in children? Check out the video below:

What Are the Symptoms of MRSA in Children?

MRSA infections mainly affect the skin and this is because the germs enter the body through open scrapes in the skin. This could be through a cut or open sore or in some cases areas that are covered by hair. If diagnosed early, it is easy to treat MRSA infections. However, the infections can easily become serious if left untreated and you child needs to seek medical treatment if he/she notices any of the following symptoms:

  • Painful bumps within the skin that are hard and swollen
  • Bumps that do not heal and develop fast
  • Blisters filled with pus or rashes
  • Painful sores that are accompanied by fever
  • The skin around a sore is warm or hot
  • Abscess or a draining boil

Important Notes:

Seek immediate medical attention if you notice signs of infection in a cut or painful red bumps in the skin. Do not drain or self-medicate as this could spread the infection further making it worse. Always cover infections and keep infected part of the skin clean. Call your pediatrician immediately.

If your child’s skin infection is accompanied by chills, fever, a severe headache, rash or any other sign of a systemic infection, seek immediate medical attention.

How to Treat MRSA in Children

Treatment will depend on the severity of the skin infection. In cases where the child is suffering from a mild MRSA skin infection, the infection will most likely be opened and drained. The doctor will then prescribe oral antibiotics and ointments. Proper hygiene and care is recommended to ensure that a further infection does not occur and the area should be covered.

  • If the doctor prescribes antibiotics, ensure that you child follows the prescription and finish it even when the child feels better or appears to be healed. Most infections heal within 14 days, but in this case, it may take much longer. The doctor will most likely require a follow up session just to ensure that the infection is healed completely. 
  • Sometimes antibiotics may not be useful or effective, especially when the cause of the infection was a virus. Your doctor may instead opt to let a mild infection run its full course without the need for antibiotics. Other treatments may be prescribed to help treat your child’s symptoms.

In cases of stubborn infections, the doctor may recommend that you bath your child in a bleach solution. Add half a cup of bleach to a bathtub filled quarter way to prevent spreading the infection. You can also wash the body using an antibacterial soap such as chlorhexidine.

Another approach to treating an MRSA infection is killing the bacteria from the source. For example, your child’s doctor may prescribe medication that kills MRSA in the nose.

Things to Keep in Mind

  • Never self-medicate your child with antibiotics, as this may lead to using antibiotics for the wrong reasons, giving your child’s body a chance to build resistance.
  • Always give your child the full medication as prescribed. Unless your doctor tells you to stop taking the medication, continue giving your child the medication until the dose is finished. Germs often hang around and if treatment is not completed, this may lead to a subsequent infection or illness. 
  • Under no circumstances should you give your child another person’s medication or save antibiotics for later use.

How to Prevent MRSA in Children

You can prevent MRSA in children by:

  • Keeping cuts and open skin clean and covered.
  • Practicing proper hygiene by washing hands with soap mostly using plain soap and water. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoiding sharing personal items such as uniforms and towels.
  • If you use shared sports equipment, you can prevent the equipment from having contact with the skin by covering it with clothing. The equipment needs to be disinfected as well.