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Forum Name: Other infections

Question: MRSA


 harp01 - Sun Dec 02, 2007 7:15 am

I'm a 57 year old female with constant right earache because of sinus pressure, lots of sinus type allergies and/or GERD, and in the past I have been told I have diverticulosis. Only past surgeries are dental extractions and GI scopes. Sister died of lupus; cousin with lupus. Only current meds are allergy meds and Benicar for blood pressure, and aspirin.

My elderly mother died of bullous pemphigus/MRSA complications 2 years ago. Before we knew it was MRSA I did have direct contact with the fluid from broken pemphigoid "blisters." I did always wash my hands. Unfortunately, I do have a habit of rubbing my nose a lot, because I have chronic itchy nose from allergies. My mom's MRSA got in her blood.

I asked my nurse practitioner doctor about MRSA and she said, "Oh, sure, you're colonized." She gave me Bactroban to put in my nose but I didn't use it all because of my allergy problems - with my constant runny nose, it just came right out as soon as I put it in.

However, for the 2 years since I have been having intermittent itchy red spots on skin, like mosquito bites but grouped 5 or so in a line. 3 months ago I began having a lot more itching, intermittent, all over body. Because it has been in the news, I thought about the MRSA and went to a doc-in-a-box, who blew it off as nothing and made me feel stupid.

A few weeks ago I had a very painful pimple-like lesion on my face. I haven't had a pimple in years, and when I did have them, they didn't hurt like this. I put iodine on it and it cleared up. For the past few weeks I've been very tired, allergies acting up and throat and neck mildly sore because of that, all my joints and back aching worse than usual. For the past week I've had explosive gas producing thin yellow mucus or purulent discharge, more GERD, allergies trying to cause bronchitis, and now I have a sore cuticle on one finger that is so painful it keeps me awake at night.

I'm terrified that I was colonized with the MRSA and it has become systemic, like my mom's was. The two medical professionals I talked to have acted like I am an idiot to be concerned.
 Dr. Chan Lowe - Mon Dec 03, 2007 11:41 pm

User avatar Hi Harp01,

As you've suggested, MRSA is a staph bacteria that can colonize the nose and skin of individuals. Most people who are colonized with MRSA will be asymptomatic and never have any problems.

MRSA is well known to cause spontaneous skin infections so it is possible that the bumps you are developing are from MRSA. However, your description of red groupings of small spots is actually not very likely to be MRSA. More commonly MRSA would cause a cellulitis type picture that causes a red area of skin that continues to expand. Also, bacterial skin infections tend to be painful more than itchy.

What you are describing actually makes me wonder if you may have patches of eczema. People with significant allergies are at increased risk of developing eczema (which is basically an allergy of the skin in a simplified way of thinking).

I'd suggest you see your doctor when you have these spots to have them evaluated. If you are concerned you may be colonized with MRSA a nasal swab can be cultured to see if you do have this bacteria or not. Your contact with your mother does make it more likely that you are colonized but is certainly not a guarantee.

Best wishes.
 harp01 - Tue Dec 04, 2007 1:18 am

Thanks. The painfulness of the pimple type spot does concern me. My mom had similar painful pimple spots that came and went for 5 years, had multiple courses of antibiotics, then they finally decided that she had MRSA in her circulatory system and put her in intensive care for a month, but it was too late. If that's what I have, I'd sure like to take care of it while it's still just a skin thing.

Every time I try to talk to a doctor about my concern they pat me on the back and/or laugh and say that my mom was old. I often have trouble with doctors discounting me. In the past I took this personally, but other women have told me that they also feel that their doctors talk down to them and treat them like children. What is the best way to respond in a situation like that?
 Dr. Chan Lowe - Wed Dec 05, 2007 10:17 pm

User avatar Hi again,

Unfortunately, I hear from patients relatively frequently that feel like their doctor is not listening to them. I think the best way to deal with this is to be honest with your doctor. Tell him that you are concerned about this issue and would like it further evaluated. Explain that you may be overly concerned but you are concerned none-the-less and would like some reassurance on the issue.

Hopefully this will help.

Best wishes.
 apeape22 - Tue Feb 12, 2008 7:58 pm

I have a question about recurring MRSA infections. I have had 3 cases of MRSA in the last 5 months. The first case was a cellulitis infection of the foot that tested positive in a culture for MRSA. The second was a larger infection, with several bumps on different parts of the body, but one on my arm turned in to cellulitis. This last infection which i was treated for today was a spot on my back that started out like a small pimple 2 days ago, but quickly turned into a red, swollen very painful spot the size of a half dollar. This too was diagnosed as cellulitis and MRSA. All 3 times I have been given antibiotics Bactrim and Doxyclcleen to take, however this time, the doctor prescribed Bactriban to apply in the nose twice daily for 5 days. My question is how do I keep continuing to get these skin infections, or am I never getting rid of them all together. I am taking every precaution such as excessive hand washing, using towels and washclothes only once and washing in bleach. I even went so far as to purchase the hibiclense antimicrobial hand wash hoping to reduce my risk. Is there anything else I can do, or anything different I should be doing to help control and prevent these outbreaks. Your input would be greatly appreciated.

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