Childr Health Information

MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)

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Topic: Diseases & Conditions

This handout was written to answer some of the questions most often asked about MRSA.  Feel free to ask your doctor or nurse practitioner to go over any information you do not understand.

What is MRSA?

Some germs that commonly live on the skin and in the nose of healthy people are called Staphylococcus or “staph” bacteria.  Usually, staph bacteria aren’t harmful, but sometimes they get inside the body through a break in the skin and cause infection. Some staph are resistant to certain antibiotics, such as penicillin, making it harder to treat. This is known as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA. 

How is MRSA spread?

Anyone can get MRSA.  It is contagious and can be spread by direct skin-to-skin contact.  People are more likely to get MRSA if they:

  •  Touch the infected skin of someone with MRSA
  •  Use personal items (towels, washcloths, clothes, athletic equipment) of someone who has MRSA
  •  Touch objects that have MRSA bacteria on the surface
  •  Have openings in their skin such as cuts or scrapes
  •  Are in crowded places where germs are easily spread.

Because MRSA is contagious, if one person in a family is infected with MRSA, other members of the family may get it.

What kinds of infections do people get from MRSA?

Most often, MRSA causes infections on the skin. These infections may look like any one of the following:

  • Sores that look and feel like spider bites (However, MRSA is not caused by a spider bite)
  • Large, red, painful bumps under the skin (called boils)
  • A cut that is swollen, hot and filled with pus
Occasionally, MRSA may cause more serious infections such as surgical wound infections, bloodstream infections and pneumonia.  These infections are rare.

How is MRSA treated?

Treatment for MRSA may include taking an antibiotic or having a doctor drain the infection.   Keep the wound clean and dry.  If you are given an antibiotic, be sure to take all of the doses, even if the infection is getting better, unless otherwise directed by your doctor. Do not share antibiotics with other people or keep unused antibiotics. 

How can I prevent MRSA from spreading?

  • Practice good hand washing (eg, keep your hands clean by washing with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand cleaner).
  • Cover any infected skin sores with a clean dry bandage until healed.
  • Do not poke or squeeze the sores.
  • Do not touch sores, especially ones that are not covered with a bandage.  Always wash your hands if you do come in contact with an infected sore.
  • Keep cuts and scrapes clean.
  • Do not share personal items such as towels and razors that come into contact with bare skin.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough.
  • Be careful if you are around people with a weak immune system such as newborn babies, the elderly or anyone with a chronic disease.
  • Be careful if you are around someone who has a skin condition such as eczema, or someone who just had surgery.  They may be more likely to get an infection.

When do I call the doctor?

Sometimes, an MRSA infection that starts as a skin infection may worsen.  It is important to contact your doctor if the infection does not get better.   If your child is taking an antibiotic, be sure to give him or her all of the doses. 
For Athletes:

  • Practice good hygiene, including showering and washing with soap after all practices and competitions.
  • Do not share towels, uniforms or other personal items (equipment) with others.
  • Report sores or skin wounds to the coaching staff.
  • Cover all wounds or sores.  If a wound or sore cannot be covered well and is draining, do not participate in practices or competitions until the wound or sore can be covered or has healed.
  • Use clean clothing or towel between the skin and shared sports equipment when possible.

PDF: Child Health Information - MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)

Derechos de autor(c) de The Children's Medical Center, ano 1999. Este material unicamente tiene fines educativos. No puede ser reproducido, distribuido ni modificado sin previa autorizacion de The Children's Medical Center of Dayton, One Children's Plaza, Dayton, Ohio, 45404-1815. Llame al 937-641-3666 para solicitar autorizacion o para obtener un juego maestro para copias. Para obtener mas informacion puede visitar (consulte la seccion de informacion legal).

La informacion contenida en este material es unicamente informacion de tipo general. No debe considerarse como completa. Para obtener mas informacion acerca de los complementos para leche materna, por favor pidala a su doctor.

The information contained in this handout is for general information only and should not be considered complete. For specific information about bathing your baby, please ask your doctor or nurse practitioner.

Additional information may be located in the Family Resource Center, 2nd floor, near the Outpatient Surgery Center. Hours of the center vary; please contact the Family Resource Center at 937-641-3700.

Copyright(c) The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. This material is for educational purposes only. It cannot be reproduced or distributed without permission from Dayton Children's.


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