MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. This means the bacteria that causes MRSA is resistant to common antibiotics. Fighting MRSA is difficult and can take longer than fighting other staph infections. The Staphylococcus bacteria is constantly present on the human body. Most of the time, simple staph infections are easy to treat and some require no medical intervention at all, but MRSA has evolved and the body cannot fight this strain of staph infection as well. Antibiotics are difficult to administer because of the resistance to antibiotics.

MRSA is caused by Staphylococcus aureus. The rise in recent cases may be associated with overuse of antibiotics or parents not giving children the full course of antibiotics when prescribed for other conditions.

Unlike other staph infections, MRSA infections can develop on both broken skin and intact skin. Broken skin, such as a cut or scrape, will often appear red and swollen around the edges. Intact skin will develop a red bump that may ooze pus or liquid. If the infection is not treated properly, it can spread to other organs of the body and cause death.

Preventing an MRSA infection is simple. Teach children to wash hands often. Cover all broken skin (cuts, scrapes, and scratches) with a sterile bandage and change the bandage often. Never share personal items that may spread an MRSA infection like towels, wash clothes and underwear. Adults can clean school equipment with a strong antiseptic cleaner to kill off MRSA staph bacteria.

An MRSA infection is diagnosed with a simple laboratory test. A sample of the infection site is sent to a lab and tested for Staphylococcus aureus. If the test comes back positive, further treatment options are discussed. In some cases, laboratory tests can take three to four days, so doctors may start treatment before the test results are available.

Treatment for an MRSA staph infection depends on the symptoms. If MRSA develops around an open sore, antibiotics are typically prescribed. The course of treatment is typically longer with MRSA compared to other staph infections. If the infection develops under the skin, doctors will lance the “boil” to drain the infection. Antibiotics may be prescribed to clear any remaining bacteria.

It is important to take all medications when prescribed for MRSA. If the infection is allowed to return, the same antibiotic may not work the second time around.

MRSA is a rare staph infection, but it is one that seems to be diagnosed more often today. The first infection was found in 1968, so doctors have been fighting MRSA for a long time and as time passes, the infection becomes more resistant to current antibiotics. Early diagnosis and treatment are important.