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Date of last update: 10/18/2017.

Forum Name: Dermatology Topics

Question: MRSA or ACNE

 i_pixie2 - Mon Nov 12, 2007 7:01 pm

I am a 26 year old female who has never had acne problems until 1 year ago. But it is not a normal zit. I woke up last year (2006) with a very sore lump just under my lip on the left side of my chin. I thought nothing of it because I thought it was just a pimple. Later on that night, I noticed that I was starting to go numb and become very swollen. I went to an emergancy room and they told me (without any tests) that I have MRSA. They gave me an antibiotic venomycin and told me to take it. I went to my doctor the next day because I was still swollen and very sore. He told me the ER were "idiots" and it was just a staph infection and gave me antibiotic cream. After using the cream it went away in about a week. Well, Sept. of this year (2007) I awoke with the same problem again and the same area. I went to a walk in because that side of my mouth was completely paralized and my lip was so swollen it was doubled over. They once again said it was just a staph infection and gave me antibiotic cream and told me to keep it covered. Again, within 1 week it went away. Well, now starting about 2 weeks ago, I have noticed my chin becoming broken out again with little acne. Last night I got one large lump but on the other side of my chin, and a large lump in the area that has been infected before. I have not had any swelling this time. Now, normally I would just blow off the original ER doc and agree with my primary care that it is not MRSA but I am curious now. In your experience, have you ever known for there to be a connection between MRSA and acne or staph infections and acne. I know that some of the areas are acne and have been using some OTC acne medication. It seems to be helping the areas that I know are to be zits, but not the larger lumps and am now curious about the staph or MRSA infection. Please let me know what you recommend and thank you so much for your time.
 Dr. Chan Lowe - Tue Nov 13, 2007 9:58 pm

User avatar Hi I_pixie2,

There is still a lot of confusion about MRSA, including in the medical community. MRSA stands for methicillin resistant staph aureus. Previously, the staph aureus bacteria was susceptible to the antibiotic methicillin. Some of the strains of staph have taken on a new ability to withstand the methicillin and a few other antibiotics.

When the staph bacteria becomes MRSA it also becomes slightly more likely to cause skin infections and abscesses because it acquires a gene that allows it to evade the white blood cells some.

Both Methicillin sensitive staph (MSSA) and methicillin resistant staph (MRSA) can live normally on the skin. About 30% of people will be colonized with one of these forms. MRSA is slowly becoming the dominant type.

It may very well be that your acne is providing an area for the staph to get into the skin and cause infection. I would recommend two things for you. 1st, I would recommend you have a bacterial nasal culture to look and see if you are colonized with staph (this same culture will delineate between MSSA and MRSA). Also, if you get another skin infection and there is some fluid that can be cultured I would recommend a culture be done of this as well.

If it turns out you are colonized you may want to try to erradicate the colonization by using a nasal antibiotic called mupirocin and a soap/body wash called chlorhexidine. Your doctor can prescribe these for you. (The chlorhexidine often does not need a prescription but the mupirocin probably will.)

I hope this helps some. Best wishes.

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