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8 Simple Steps to Avoid a Bad MRSA Infection

What is MRSA? Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is an infection caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, otherwise known as “staph”.  Coined by the media as a “super bug”, MRSA is resistant to most antibiotics used to treat infections. With limited treatment options available (i.e., vancomycin) preventing the development of MRSA is the best way to treat infection.

Typically appearing as a small bump, similar to a pimple or spider bite, a MRSA infection will increase in redness over time and may develop pus drainage and/or be accompanied by fever. If not cared for immediately and properly, this infection can quickly develop into a life-threatening condition.


How does someone acquire MRSA?

Found in one-third of the population on their skin or in nasal passages, staph bacteria become harmful when they enter the body through a cut or open wound. Staph is spread by close or direct skin-to-skin contact, openings in the skin from a cut or abrasion, contaminated surfaces, poor hygiene or crowded conditions. High-risk individuals include team athletes and military recruits.


How is MRSA prevented?

The biggest way to prevent the spread of infection is by washing your hands. Here are the proper techniques for handwashing as written by the CDC:

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), and apply soap.

  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.

  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a time? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.

  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.

  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of germs in most situations. If soap and water are not available, it is appropriate to use an alcohol-based sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.


Here is the proper way to use hand sanitizers, according to the CDC:

  • Apply the product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount).

  • Rub your hands together.

  • Rub the product over all surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry.


Other ways to prevent the spread of infections are:

  • Showering immediately after an athletic event.

  • Avoid sharing personal items such as towels, razors, clothing, and athletic equipment.

  • Keeping wounds clean and covered until they heal.

  • Cleaning athletic equipment and workout clothes.

  • Washing athletic clothes after each use.

  • Cleaning linens using the “hot” water setting, use bleach if appropriate, and dry on the hot setting in the dryer.

  • Non-washable gear should be wiped down with alcohol or an antibacterial wipe after each use.

  • Athletic equipment, such as mats, benches, or weight grips should be disinfected after each use with an antibacterial solution.


How is MRSA treated?

Most MRSA infections are treatable with antibiotics. However, if signs and symptoms are ignored, the infection can become serious, even fatal. If you’re on medication, yet the infection continues to worsen or looks the same after 3-4 days and/or a fever develops or worsens, seek medical attention immediately. If you’re taking antibiotics, follow your medical provider’s instructions precisely, even if you’re feeling better. Proper prevention and care of an infection or injury the first time decreases the likelihood of it reoccurring. When it comes to infection; When in Doubt, Get it Checked Out. 


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Meet the Author

Marissa Strehlow, MS, LAT, is an athletic trainer at Aurora Sports Health in Mequon and is the athletic trainer for Nicolet High School.

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The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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