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Staph Skin Infections

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

With school back in session I have started seeing more skin infections secondary to methicillin resistant staph, or MRSA as it is often named. Staph skin infections have been common for years and typically caused impetigo that often appeared during summer months when children scratch bites and rashes and get them infected.

These skin infections are fairly easy to treat with common antibiotics, good hand washing, finger nail trimming and antibacterial soap. In the last several years pediatricians as well as adult physicians have started seeing resistant staph infections that seem to “come out of no where”. A patient will often come in with the complaint, “I think a spider bit me”. There just aren’t that many spiders out there! The lesion begins as a tiny pustule, like a pimple, and rapidly expands and becomes hot to the touch, fiery red, very tender and may even spontaneously drain a purulent material. They are very painful. We see these lesions on babies buttocks thought to be secondary to bacteria on changing tables, and often on kids in involved in athletics who share towels, shirts, pads, helmets etc.

If you think your child has a funny skin lesion that is rapidly getting worse, it means a visit to the doctor. Ideally they will be able to express some of the purulent discharge to culture the bacteria and begin treatment with the correct antibiotic. Many of these lesions need to be drained.

Unfortunately, many of these resistant organisms are emerging secondarily to overuse of antibiotics when not needed (i.e. for a cold). That’s another conversation for another day!

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat tomorrow!

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