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MRSA precautions & treatment

What is MRSA?

In recent years, MRSA has become a growing concern in the medical community. MRSA (often pronounced muhr-suh) is a type of staph. Staph is a common germ found on the skin and in the nose. Most of the time, staph is not harmful, but sometimes it can cause a blood or skin infection. MRSA is a type of staph resistant to antibiotics. In other words, it is difficult for drugs to kill the germ.

How do people get MRSA?

MRSA infections can be spread by touch, including skin-to-skin contact with someone infected, or with a surface that contains the MRSA infection. Crowded living conditions and poor personal hygiene (including not washing your hands) can spread MRSA. MRSA is often a problem in hospitals, nursing homes or other group living environments.

What does MRSA look like?

A MRSA infection on the skin can look like a pimple or a boil. It can be red, swollen and painful, and might have pus leaking from it.

How do I know if I have MRSA?

Your doctor will do tests to determine if you have MRSA by taking a sample of your blood, urine or skin. The sample will be sent to a lab, which will test it for MRSA.

How is MRSA treated?

Your doctor might clean out the infection, or you might take an antibiotic. Even if the infection seems to be better, do not stop taking your medication until it runs out.

How can I protect myself from MRSA?

You can guard against MRSA by washing your hands frequently with soap and water, or by using an anti-bacterial hand sanitizer. You should also keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage until they heal. Avoid contact with other people's wounds or bandages, and don't share personal items like razors or towels.

If I have MRSA, what should I do?

Most healthy people have little risk of catching MRSA, but ask your doctor if it is safe for you to be around children and other family members. Your family members should wash or sanitize their hands regularly. Make sure to keep your wounds covered, and don't let anyone touch your wounds or your bandages. Make sure to wash household kitchen items and any linens or bedding in hot water. You might be given Bactroban cream to use in your nose, and you might be asked to wash with Hibi-Clens wash from head to toe. It is also advised to wipe down surfaces in your home, including doorknobs and countertops, with Clorox wipes. If you do not adequately clean the surfaces in your home, you risk reinfecting yourself or a family member even if treatment is successful.

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