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MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is a bacteria that causes many different types of infections in children. Children can be exposed to MRSA in situations where they come into close contact with many other people, such as daycare, school, locker rooms, or playgrounds. These community-acquired MRSA (CA-MRSA) infections usually cause skin infections such as an abscess. If you suspect your child has a MRSA infection, see your pediatrician immediately, as only a culture of the infection will tell you for sure. The sooner you get it treated, the better.

A child with a small abscess will likely be treated by opening the infected area with a small needle or scalpel and draining out the pus. The doctor will also likely prescribe an antibiotic ointment. The area should be kept clean and covered while it heals.

If the abscess is large or doesn’t drain completely, the pediatrician will prescribe a course of oral antibiotics. You need to make sure your child takes every dose exactly as prescribed. The medications available to treat MRSA include clindamycin (Cleocin), vancomycin (Vancocin, Vancoled), trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Bactrim DS, Septra, Septra DS), and linezolid (Zyvox).

If the skin infection is severe or if the MRSA has spread to other parts of the body, your child may need to be admitted to the hospital so to receive antibiotic therapy intravenously. If your pediatrician recommends it, your child might also need to take baths in diluted bleach water or use a special soap to prevent further spreading.

For persistent or recurring MRSA infections, your pediatrician might prescribe an antibiotic ointment to be placed inside your child’s nasal passages, where the MRSA lives, in order to kill any remaining bacteria.

If you follow all the recommended steps and your child’s infection is not healing or is getting worse, contact your doctor immediately.

Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, May 2020

Takeaways

  • If you suspect your child has a MRSA infection, see your pediatrician immediately.
  • Mild infections can be treated by draining the abscess. More serious infections need to be treated with antibiotics.
  • For persistent or recurring MRSA infections, your pediatrician may prescribe an antibiotic ointment to be placed inside your child’s nasal passages where the MRSA lives in order to kill any remaining bacteria.
  • Follow the doctor’s directions, especially when it comes to taking medication. MRSA infections can take a couple weeks to clear up.

References

  1. University of Rochester Medical Center. MRSA and Children: What You Should Know.
  2. Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. MRSA Infection.
  3. The American Academy of Pediatrics. Evidence-based guidance issued for treating MRSA infections.

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