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Coronavirus Update:What patients and families need to know

Pediatric Skin and Soft Tissue Infections (Staph and MRSA)

What is a Staph infection?

Staphylococcus (Staph for short) is a germ that lives in our noses and on our skin. An infection can happen when the skin is open from a scratch or cut or an insect bite. Often a Staph infection can be small like a pimple and will respond to applying heat to the area. Sometimes, staph infections can become more serious infections like abscesses, wound infections, pneumonia and sepsis.

Almost half of all healthy people carry staph bacteria in their noses without getting sick. Sometimes, however, fingers can carry staph bacteria to other parts of the body and cause infections where there is broken skin.

Key points about MRSA in children

  • MRSA is staph bacteria that can’t be killed with common antibiotics.
  • MRSA is usually limited to the skin. It can be life-threatening if it spreads to the lungs, the bloodstream or other organs. MRSA infection can be harder to treat than other staph infections. But other oral or IV (intravenous) antibiotics can successfully treat the infection.
  • MRSA infections are more common in groups of people that spend a lot of time close together. This includes children on a sports team. MRSA may be on sports equipment, clothing and may transfer from skin to skin during play.
  • Symptoms include painful red bumps that leak fluid. A child may also have a fever, chills and headache.
  • Your child will likely be treated with antibiotic medicine.
  • If your child has a mild MRSA skin infection, the health care provider will likely treat it by opening the infected sore and draining out the fluid (pus). You will likely be given a prescription antibiotic ointment to use on your child. Your child may also need to take antibiotic medicine by mouth.
  • Don't try to treat a MRSA infection on your own. This can spread the infection to other people or make it worse for your child. Cover the infected area, wash your hands and call your child's health care provider.

Prevention and Risk Assessment

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Infectious Diseases

Our Division of Infectious Diseases is the major referral center for infectious diseases in the Washington, D.C., area, helping thousands of patients each year, and actively promoting prevention through community outreach and education.

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