Common antibiotics help patients recover from MRSA skin abscesses

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases-funded trial counters current thinking about treatment effectiveness.

MRSA – Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria are resistant to multiple antibiotics and commonly cause skin infections that can lead to more serious or life-threatening infection in other parts of the body. In new findings published in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that two common, inexpensive antimicrobials can help patients heal from MRSA skin abscesses. The findings suggest that current treatment options for MRSA still have a role, even as scientists continue to search for new antimicrobial products. The research was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a part of the National Institutes of Health.

The study was conducted at hospitals across the United States and involved 796 children and adults with small, uncomplicated skin abscesses.  All patients had their abscesses opened and drained as part of standard MRSA treatment. The patients were then sorted into three groups, each of which received a different, ten-day oral treatment regimen. One group received clindamycin, a second group received trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX), and the third group received placebo.

The group treated with clindamycin had an 81.7 percent cure rate, and the group that received TMP-SMX had an 84.6 percent cure rate. The placebo group had a 62.9 percent cure rate. According to the researchers, the findings contradict a commonly held belief that antimicrobial treatment is little better than doing nothing for MRSA skin infections. It corroborates the findings of another NIAID-funded study(link is external) demonstrating that TMP-SMX treatment resulted in better clinical outcomes than placebo for MRSA skin abscesses, and also upholds other findings(link is external) that both clindamycin and TMP-SMX are equally beneficial in treating MRSA skin infections.

The researchers note, however, that the side effects of clindamycin and TMP-SMX (including nausea, diarrhea, and possible new Clostridium difficile infections) can be severe. In addition, some strains of Staphylococcus are resistant to clindamycin. The authors recommend that healthcare providers weigh the risks, but not dismiss these antimicrobials out of hand as viable treatment options for MRSA skin abscesses.

Additional funding for the study was provided in part by NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.

Click here for a link to the National Institutes of Health article 

Staph Infections – MRSA – In Children Under 18

by Bob Diamond R.Ph

CA-MRSA Staph Infection
CA-MRSA Staph Infection

Methycillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a well-known public health problem.


I just read a new study in the September 2008 issue of the North Carolina Medical Journal The study was about Community Acquired – Methycillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, better known as a CA-MRSA infection, in children under 18 years old.

This is different than the MRSA (pronounced mersa) skin infection that has been acquired in a hospital setting. If a staph infection was acquired in the hospital, it is called HA-MRSA.

The Wake Forest University School of Medicine conducted the study.

This study was designed to look at children who reported to an emergency room with a skin abscess (skin infection with puss) that looked like it might be MRSA. If the child had not been admitted to a hospital within the last 30 days, and they had MRSA, it was determined to be community acquired. The study covered an 18-month period. 88 children were evaluated. They ranged in age from 2 weeks to 17 years.

After the CA-MRSA infection was identified by the doctor, each individual infection was tested by a laboratory to determine which antibiotics were the most effective against it.

The study concluded that community acquired-MRSA was responsible for almost 90 percent of the skin abscesses that were seen in the emergency department during that time.

The most interesting fact that came out of this study was that if an abscess was less than two inches (five centimeters) across, the wound would usually heal, if the doctor cleaned and debrided (removed dead or diseased tissue) the wound thoroughly, whether he administered antibiotics of not.

If the wound was larger than two inches, then the patient would only be healed if they were admitted to the hospital, and given aggressive antibiotic treatment.

One thing this study demonstrated is that CA-MRSA is not normally life threatening if it is taken care of while the size of the abscess is less than two inches. If you wait too long to treat it, then it can become life threatening.

If you see an infection on a child’s skin that has puss in it you need to treat it is as soon as possible, before it becomes a serious problem.

Click here for the North Carolina Medical Journal

Bob Diamond R.Ph

[email protected]

CA-MRSA Staph Infection