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Diaper Area MRSA

Community-acquired MRSA infections have been steadily increasing over the past couple of years.  The vast majority of these infections resolve themselves without medical intervention.  Some, however, progress and have to be treated in the hospital.

Babies seem to be especially prone to developing serious MRSA infections requiring hospitalization in their diaper areas.  Even just a mild case of diaper rash can create the tiny breach in the skin needed for MRSA to enter.

Parents, if you notice something that looks like a pimple that starts to get bigger and look angry, it is a good idea to get the area checked by a physician sooner than later. 

Most MRSA infections, can be managed by your pediatrician and the sooner treatment begins, the less likely you are to end up in the hospital.  Your physician may drain the “pimple” and prescribe an antibiotic to treat the infection.

MRSA Truths

  • Many parents who notice a pimple in the diaper area assume it is a spider bite.  It is highly unlikely that a spider ended up in your child’s diaper.
  • There is not much you can do to prevent a MRSA infection.  Keeping the skin cut and blemish free will prevent MRSA from being able to enter.  Unless your baby lives in a bubble, this is not possible.
  • MRSA infections in the diaper area do not occur because baby was left for extended periods of time in a dirty diaper.  Even babies whose diapers are changed frequently sometimes develop diaper rash and can get a MRSA infection.
  • If other members of the family have had a MRSA infection it likely means others in the family are carriers of MRSA as well.
  • MRSA does not always need to be treated by a doctor.  You need to see a doctor if you notice the area getting bigger and redder.
  • Children who have had a MRSA infection are more likely to have subsequent infections, but once they are out of diapers the risk of a skin breach in the diaper area becomes much less likely.  As a result, MRSA infections requiring hospitalization occur less frequently.
  • In a typical week, there are at least five children hospitalized at WakeMed Children’s Hospital for MRSA infections.

MRSA is everywhere. Being aware of signs and symptoms of a serious MRSA infection is your best defense.  Prompt treatment will keep you and your family well and out of the hospital.

Karen Chilton, MD, is a pediatric hospitalist in the WakeMed Children’s Hospital