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MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is the name of a “staph” bacterium that can cause infections not only on the surface of the skin, but also into the soft tissue where a boil or abscess can form. In recent years, MRSA has become a major public-health problem because this bacterium has become resistant to antibiotics called beta-lactams, which include methicillin and other commonly prescribed antibiotics (such as penicillin and amoxicillin). This resistance has made treating these infections more difficult. While MRSA was once limited to hospitals and nursing homes, it has spread into the community in schools, households, and child care centers, among other places. It can be transmitted from person to person through skin-to-skin contact, particularly through cuts and abrasions.

If your child has a wound that appears to be infected—specifically, if it is red, swollen, hot, and draining pus—have it checked by your pediatrician. He may drain the infection and prescribe antibiotics. The most serious MRSA infections may cause pneumonia and bloodstream infections. Even though MRSA infections are resistant to some antibiotics, they are treatable with other medications.

To prevent your child from getting MRSA at school or other public places, the following strategies can be helpful:

  • Follow good hygiene practices. Your child should wash his hands frequently with soap and warm water, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
  • Use a clean dry bandage to cover any cuts, scrapes, or breaks in your child’s skin. These bandages should be changed at least daily.
  • Don’t let your child share towels, washcloths, or other personal items (including clothing) with anyone else.
  • Frequently clean surfaces that your child touches.
Last Updated
Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5 (Copyright © 2009 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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