How to handle MRSA in your house…

What I didn’t know about MRSA may help you….

Before I had my kids I remember watching a story on one of the major morning shows about MRSA and how bad it was.  I believe they even called it the “Super Bug” and using terms like “highly resistant.”  They talked about how the elderly, children, and patients in hospitals are most likely to get infected.  They had a mom who talked about her kid being infected and being hospitalized.  She was telling the story while crying.  I remember thinking, holy moly, may my family never get that.  This is my story about my family getting it.

So what is MRSA?  The technical name for it is Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.  For many years doctors would prescribe methicillin antibiotics to treat various forms of staphylococcus.  However, they were finding that methicillin antibiotics were no longer effective against some forms of staphylococcus including staphylococcus aureus, hence the term MRSA.

Sounds scary, right?  I will tell you, when the hospital called us last year on Thanksgiving day to tell us that our child’s culture came back MRSA positive, I cried.  It was one of the worst moments for me as a mom.   Not only did I feel helpless, I was angry, scared, and afraid.  We had been dealing with these “pimples” all over her body since Halloween.  When another started to show signs a few days before Thanksgiving, we immediately took her to Children’s hospital emergency room.  Here is where the doctors took the culture of the puss inside, and two days later called us with the results. 

MRSA looks like a pimple
MRSA looks like a pimple

We were on our way to visit family for Thanksgiving when we turned around and came back to Pittsburgh.  I was not willing to risk another round of chills, fever, and fatigue as my daughter had been through that already and she is only six.  I wanted to make sure that she would be around doctors who knew and understood what she had.  We had visited our primary care doctors for weeks only to be told she a virus and it would work itself out.  MRSA doesn’t work itself out.  It needs to be treated. 

The doctor told us the strain that she had was found to be “sensitive” to many antibiotics.  This means that when they tested for MRSA they also tested to see which antibiotics would be effective against it.  They told us we should start with this one antibiotic for 10 days.  If she does show signs of growing any more of these pimples, to call immediately.  They would switch to another “sensitive” antibiotic on the list. 

In the paperwork they gave us about MRSA they also suggested we do bleach baths or purchase Hibiclens.  We opted for the Hibiclens as it is premade solution of chlorhexidine.  An antiseptic that is known to inhibit and kill bacteria on skin.  NOTE:  there are a lot of precautions about using this strong solution so make sure to read the bottle’s instructions and precautions carefully. 


MRSA leaves big welts
MRSA leaves big welts after they have opened

Disinfecting the entire house was next on my list of things to do.  I didn’t want anyone else in our family to get infected.  I had to make sure the cleaning products I had were effective at killing MRSA.  Thank goodness all my cleaning products were known to be effective.  I got my spray bottle and started to spray everything in my house.  I gathered bed sheets, clothing, hats, gloves, jackets, blankets, stuffed animals, etc.  Threw everything into the washer on hot.  Trying to tell a six-year-old to not touch stuff is quite difficult.  It became a job just watching what she was touching and making sure it got wiped down. 

The doctor told us that after 48 hours of being on the medicine, and if she didn’t get any more pimples, that she shouldn’t be contagious anymore.  Even with hearing this, after the 48 hours was up, I still wanted to make sure that we continued to disinfect. 

In my mind I keep playing that morning show footage where the mom just cried talking about her kid who had MRSA.  Here are some things I learned:

  • I don’t know where my kid picked it up.  
  • I don’t know why she got. 
  • I don’t know how to prevent it from happening again. 
  • I do know now that I can handle it and as long I take the precautions I can control it from spreading. 
  • I know that the Internet is a blessing and a curse.  Be aware of what you read, especially if you try to self-diagnose. 
  • Always be the advocate for your kids on all levels especially their health. 
  • Listen to that amazing mom instinct that tells us something is wrong, because something IS WRONG. 

If your child does exhibit big pimple or boils on their body, even if it is just one, get them checked immediately.  I highly recommend asking for it to be cultured because if you wait, it can only spread. 

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Mary Yohannan
Mary Yohannan lives in the Baldwin-Whitehall area of Pittsburgh. She moved to Pittsburgh over 2 years ago with her husband and 2 beautiful children. Mary owns her own travel agency Life is Better Traveling™, LLC which has helped hundreds of families take amazing vacations to Disney®, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Alaska, and all over Europe. She is also the founder of the Travel Agent School Supporting Learning and Education™ or T.A.S.S.L.E, which has the How to Become a SUCCESSFUL Travel Agent program™, a one-stop, all-inclusive program for someone who wants to become a Successful Travel Agent. Mary earned the distinguished honor of the Certified Travel Associate (CTA) through the Travel Institute in 2016, and has several other travel and tourism certifications. Mary has traveled to over 20 countries on 3 continents, but it wasn’t until she had children did she learn that traveling with little ones is a completely different, and sometimes challenging, traveling experience. Mary’s authentic passion for travel and traveling with her children has given her extensive knowledge on the best tips, tricks, and hacks to keep kids calm, entertained, and well-behaved while traveling. She posts a variety of travel tips and tricks on her highly coveted, High Content Life is Better Traveling website, but she has a lot of great advice on traveling with kids that she can’t wait to share with all those amazing Pittsburgh Moms.