Staphylococcus Aureus, or Staph, as we commonly call it, can live on our skin. Up to as much of 30% of the population carry the bacteria on their skin. Normally it poses no risk as long as we wash our skin with soap and water. Staph though has been proven to be a seasonal antagonist when it comes to skin infections. Hot and humid weather gives it an opportunity to thrive an grow on the skin.
With hot weather comes outside activities, mosquitos and all the scrapes and scratches that come with them. Anytime our skin is broken it is compromised and susceptible to infection. When you combine the two there is an increased risk of skin staph infections particularly in children.
Simple solutions to avoiding this type of infection is to make sure your children rinse off every evening with soap and water. Moisturize their skin to help prevent cracks or fissures. Apply a topical cream to bites to help prevent scratching and if there are open cuts or abrasions a zinc based cream to promote healing and protect the skin. This also means you are looking at their skin regularly and will notice if there is any significant change to bites or cuts.
Anytime you see something that appears to be oozing, red, warm to the touch, or spreading you may want to treat with an antibiotic cream and/or if you don't see improvement have it looked at by a health professional.
Normally a simple Staph infection is very treatable. What is becoming a concern though, is something referred to as CA-MRSA. Or Community Acquired, Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus. Basically it is an antibiotic resistant strain of staph that may require a doctors care.
Public Health Canada says that staph bacteria including CA-MRSA can be spread person to person so it is important to keep any infection (if it is still oozing or has pus) clean and covered.
This shouldn't stop you from letting your children head out and play at the beach or in the dirt, but taking some preventive measures and being aware of what risks are out there is important. So have fun and keep your skin clean and healthy! Emily :)
Public Health Canada's Fact sheet on MRSA
PS. I was going to post pictures of staph infections and CA-MRSA but in consideration for those who have weaker stomachs I wont. I am sure those of you who are visual learners wont have trouble googling them. I will warn you, it can be really nasty.