4 Ways to Avoid MRSA Infections in Kids

Drug-resistant staph infections are on the rise. How to protect your children.

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Parents have good reason to be freaked out about MRSA, a microbe that causes nasty skin infections and is resistant to some antibiotics.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has ginned up new guidelines aimed at helping parents prevent MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) in kids, but good luck finding the practical advice on the CDC's website. We've boiled it down to spare other parents from needless clicking.

Here are four actions you can take:

1. If your child has a booboo, put a bandage on it. MRSA is usually spread by skin-to-skin contact. Bandages protect broken skin from MRSA and also reduce the risk of spreading MRSA to family members and friends if a wound already is infected.

2. Wash your hands with soap and water, and don't be timid about nagging kids to wash their hands, too. Boring, but it works.

3. Discourage sharing of towels, razors, and other hygiene items, which are often implicated in MRSA outbreaks. That's one reason MRSA outbreaks have been more common in school athletic teams. This could be the best way ever to scare boys off towel-snapping! Also, tell kids not to share clothes or other personal items.

4. Call the doctor ASAP if a family member has a skin infection and also a fever. Most staph infections look like a bump or infected area that is red, swollen, painful, and warm to the touch. Rapid treatment with the right antibiotics makes it easier to get rid of the bug.

For more on MRSA infections in students, see "A Nasty Bug Breaks Out."'