Yesterday, I had the opportunity to incise and drain this spectacularly large, red abscess. Culture is not back yet, but I suspect (and treated for) MRSA, methicillin-resistant staph aureus. Here are the nuts and bolts about diagnosis and treatment of MRSA.
1/3 of us carry staph on our skin. Usually it does not infect us, unless we are immune compromised OR we have scratches on our skin allowing the staph in–like chinks in our armor.
You are at increased risk for MRSA if. . .
- Recently hospitalized (any care provider needs to wash their hands upon entering your room)
- Child care workers
- Contact sports participants
- Residents of long-term care facilities ( nursing homes, prisons, military, college students)
MRSA symptoms? You may think you were bitten by a spider. But, consider MRSA if you have a red, raised lump that hurts or is increasing in size. NEVER drain it yourself. If sterile technique is not used (or used improperly), the infection can get worse spreading deeper into tissues.
Treatment may require incision and drainage, placement of sterile gauze packing (inside the wound cavity to help lead the infection out and to keep the wound from re-sealing over) or hospitalization. Wound cultures may be taken and antibiotics will be started. Methicillin-RESISTANT staph is resistant to the penicillin family, so other more sensitive antibiotics will be started.
To decrease your risk of MRSA use good hygiene.
- Wash hands or use hand sanitizer
- Clean cuts or scrapes well. Cover with bandage until healed
- Don’t share towels or razors
- Don’t touch another person’s wounds or bandages
- At the gym, clean equipment before and after usage, keep hands away from your face, and shower after workout.
Hope this helps.