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MRSA infections can be fatal if not treated on time. Though the bacteria causing these infections are resistant to most antibiotics, there are ways of treatment and prevention. This HealthHearty article explains about the very first symptom of this infection-MRSA rash, and more.
Mukta Gaikwad
MRSA stands for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, the bacteria that are responsible for the emergence of difficult skin infections. These bacteria belong to the family of 'Staphylococcus aureus', which cause staph infections. MRSA bacteria are resistant to methicillin, which is the antibiotic normally used to treat staphylococcal infections. They are also resistant to antibiotics including oxacillin, penicillin, and amoxicillin.
MRSA infections are classified into three categories, based on the setting through which they have been acquired. These are: Community-associated MRSA (CA-MRSA), hospital-acquired or health care-associated MRSA (HA-MRSA), and epidemic MRSA (EMRSA). Incorrectly, the term 'MRSA virus' is used in many publishing, however, MRSA is bacteria and not a virus.
What Does MRSA Rash Look Like?
Initially, it looks like a small red boil or a pimple. Slowly, the boil gets inflamed and opens up. It begins to be filled with pus or white fluid. Finally, as the infection begins to spread, it starts looking like a red patch with an outline of the skin.
Associated Symptoms
MRSA infection can lead to many skin complications. The following are some of the commonly seen symptoms.
  • Cellulitis: The infection affects the skin and also the layer of fat and tissues that lie right beneath the skin surface. It resembles a bruise and forms raised red bumps.
  • Boils: The bacteria affect the hair follicles and lead to the formation of pus.
  • Abscess: Pus accumulates under the skin.
  • Sty: The infection affects the oil glands present in the eyelid and cause bumps in the area.
  • Carbuncles: The infection becomes bigger than the abscess and generally forms several openings on the affected skin area.
  • Impetigo: The skin infection leads to the formation of blisters filled with pus.

The worst part about MRSA infections is that they can spread easily and can occur in/on any region of the body―in the internal organs too! Some of the common symptoms are fever, chills, rashes, low blood pressure, joint pains, severe headache, and shortness of breath. If the rash is left untreated, it can prove to be fatal. CA-MRSA and HA-MRSA infections can lead to endocarditis, necrotizing fasciitis, osteomyelitis, and sepsis, thereby causing death.
Mupirocin antibiotic cream helps in preventing this infection by not allowing mucous membrane colonization. Generally, for infections leading to minor abscesses, the doctors would just make an incision and drain the accumulated pus. Drugs including vancomycin [Vancocin] and linezolid [Zyvox] are used for treating this condition, in most cases.
Risk Factors
Those who are dealing with skin diseases, or are prone to wounds and cuts on their skin, are more susceptible to this infection than others. Also, those who are admitted in the hospital and have invasive devices such as IVs, urinary catheters, etc., may be under the risk of acquiring HA-MRSA; even those who are living in care facilities for a long time can acquire it. CA-MRSA infection can be contracted easily through direct skin contact. Those living in unhygienic conditions, or in crowded living spaces are under potential risk. Mayo Clinic also states that "Homosexual men have a higher risk of developing MRSA infections."
Prevention is always better than cure. It is best that you avoid close skin-to-skin contact, especially in public places. Openings in the skin, due to cuts and abrasions, should be treated as soon as possible before they turn septic. Keep your toilet seat clean and inculcate this habit among your family members too. If you are residing in crowded living conditions, see to it that you keep your surroundings clean and do everything to boost your immune system. Wash your hands every time with an antiseptic soap or a hand sanitizer when you come home. Keep your personal items, such as razors, towels, soaps, clothing, athletic equipment, and sheets, personal. Take a shower at least twice a day with soap and warm water. MRSA rash can be quite life-threatening if left untreated. Therefore, get yourself checked immediately if you suspect to have such an infection. Take care.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is meant for informational purposes only and should not be considered as a replacement for expert medical advice.