(This information courtesy of Columbia University’s “Ask Alice”.) A MRSA Staph Infection (pronounced “staff”) is medical terminology for an infection caused by staphylococcus aureus bacteria. This pesky little bacterium is very common (many people have some living on their skin all the time). However, when it enters the human body, usually through an open cut or break in the skin, it can cause infection and trouble anywhere in the body. Staph infections tend to be pus producing.
Common skin infections caused by staph include:
Infections of hair follicles that cause itchy white pus-filled bumps on the skin
(often where people shave or have irritations from skin rubbing against clothes).
Infections deeper within hair follicles that leave large, frequently red inflammations (often occur on the face or neck).
Infection of the follicle surrounding the eyelashes, causing a sore red bump in the eyelid.
The infection kids often get around their mouths and noses that causes blisters and red scabby skin.
Infection characterized by pus and swelling that can occur in the skin and in any other organ.
MRSA Staph Infection is also the leading culprit behind cases of food poisoning. It can be to blame for larger life threatening conditions, such as toxic shock syndrome (TSS), pneumonia, bone infections (osteomyelitis), mastitis in nursing mothers, endocarditis (infection of the inside of the heart), and bacteremia (blood infection). People who are otherwise healthy typically do not usually become severely ill from staph infections. However, those at special risk, who have weakened immune systems, include:
- persons with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, cancer, lung disease, kidney disease, or HIV/AIDS,
- people with various skin conditions,
- the elderly,
- people recovering from major surgery,
- injection drug users (especially those who reuse needles),
- people whose immune systems are weakened due to steroid use, radiation therapy, cancer treatment, immunosuppressive medications,
- women who are breastfeeding
Health care professionals can determine that MRSA staph infections (and not some other bacteria) are the cause of an infection by taking a culture (usually a swab from what looks like a giant Q-tip) from the infected site. Once staph has been diagnosed, the provider will prescribe antibiotics that are known to effect that specific strain of the bacteria. These antibiotics (usually either pills or creams applied to the infected body part) will hopefully kill the bacteria and cure the infection within a week or two.
Hospitals are working to stamp out staph infections. This is partially because the majority of hospital patients fall into at least one “at-risk” category, but also because of drug-resistant strains of staph, including the particularly virulent MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) strain. Antibiotic-resistance means that strains of staph aren’t killed by one or more of the antibiotics that are commonly used to treat staph infections.
These strains of staph are becoming an increasingly common threat. While they do not always cause worse or different infections than non-resistant strains, they can be much harder to treat because the most common (and easiest to use) antibiotics may not be effective. People with resistant staph infections may require hospitalization to receive antibiotics through an IV or by injection. Unfortunately some staph infections can even be fatal. (This doesn’t quite match the calm assurances above!) Check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for more information about MRSA Staph Infections.
Because improper use of antibiotics can help produce resistance to drugs, making future infections much harder to treat, the American Medical Association recommends that patients:
- follow the directions for any prescription exactly,
- take all of the medicine prescribed (even if one feels better after only a few days),
- never save old, leftover prescriptions for future use,
- never take anyone else’s prescription antibiotics
For an entire dose of the whys and wherefores of proper antibiotic use, you can look at the American Medical Association’s fact sheet, Antibiotics: Facts You Should Know.
Nature’s Own Antibiotics!
As we saw, there some newer antibiotics that may offer some help from the medical realm! In addition, nature has also made its own antibiotics in essential oils, good nutritional supplements and a special coconut lauric acid derivative. It an be very helpful and encouraging to being aware of these natural solutions. Since nature has to fight the same bacteria battle we do, nature has developed its antibiotics that can mutate along with the bacteria! (They doesn’t go out of style.)
If you haven’t seen it yet, please take a look at our MRSA Protocol.