How can I protect my child from MRSA?

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Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
MRSA -- the dangerous, antibiotic-resistant infection that's plagued hospitals for years -- is now multiplying in communities (where it's called CA-MRSA, CA for community-acquired). The number of children requiring hospital care due to MRSA, most community-acquired, has doubled since 2000.

MRSA bugs aren't rare. Actually, they're everywhere, especially in schools and gyms (and, oddly, on your nose). Mostly they don't cause trouble. But when MRSA bacteria get into open wounds, it's serious. Here's how to put the odds in your kids' favor (and yours):
  • Before you wash your child's cut and squirt on disinfectant, wash your own hands.
  • Keep open wounds clean and covered.
  • When your kid has a cut, stress the importance of good hygiene and frequent hand washing (including by practicing it).
  • If you notice growing redness, swelling, tenderness, warmth or pus, call your pediatrician. If it is MRSA, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic, such as clindamycin or trimethoprim/sulfa (common brands: Bactrim, Septra).
  • Tell your kids not to share athletic gear and to clean gym machines with disinfectant wipes before and after using. You should do the same.

Protecting your child from methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) requires many of the same precautions that you would apply to yourself. Make sure your child always keeps their hands and bodies clean, that they avoid sharing personal belongings, and that they always cover and protect open wounds. Further, if you child engages in a contact sport, they might be at heightened risk for MRSA. Always wash your child's sport clothes after any practice, games, or competitions. Advise your child to avoid excessive personal contact with teammates, and to always keep clothing or a towel between their body and any exercise equipment they use.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.