4 Ways to Prevent MRSA, a Deadly Infection
Staphylococcus aureus, or staph for short, is a group of bacteria that live on your skin. Normally these bacteria don’t cause any problems, and if they do, they’re pretty minor and treatable.
In the 1960s though, some strains of staph started becoming resistant to methicillin, the antibiotic used to treat staph infections. These bacteria became known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.
Hospitals are the most prolific breeding grounds for MRSA. Current estimates show that up to 33 percent of patients who undergo a surgery followed by hospitalization are at risk of contracting MRSA.
Most cases of MRSA result in skin bumps that feel painful and warm to the touch. They’re typically red, swollen, and filled with fluid or pus. As if that’s not bad enough, sometimes MRSA can lead to much more serious issues like pneumonia and sepsis—a life-threatening blood infection.
The problem is compounded by the fact that MRSA infections are incredibly difficult to treat. A few antibiotics work, but patients are often given extremely strong, potentially toxic cocktails of intravenous antibiotics as a last resort. Unresolved MRSA infections can lead to amputations, and one in seven results in death.
Fortunately, exciting strides have been made in developing potential new drugs. But first, let’s talk about prevention.
Prevent MRSA Infections From the Outside
MRSA is spread by skin-to-skin contact and by touching contaminated objects. So obviously, the most important prevention measure is to wash your hands frequently. Also avoid sharing personal items like towels, clothes, cosmetics, or razors.
If you find yourself facing surgery or a hospital stay, you can take steps to protect yourself from MRSA. I suggest the following:
- Ask your doctor or surgeon to test you for MRSA before you get to the hospital. Many people carry it and don’t know it! If you have it, your physicians can take extra precautions.
- Starting five days before surgery, shower every day with a chlorhexidine soap such as Hibiclens, which you can find at most drug stores. This cleanser helps to kill harmful bacteria on your skin.
- Do not let anyone shave the surgical site. Small cuts and nicks can cause harmful bacteria to enter your body. If hair must be removed, ask for it to be trimmed with clippers instead.
- Do not be embarrassed to ask all family, friends, and medical personnel to wash their hands when they enter your room.
- Bring a container of disinfectant cloths and wipe down the area around your bed, including the rails, tray, side tables, and remote control. Anything you touch should be cleaned.
Prevent MRSA From the Inside Out
Even though MRSA is spread by external means, there are still things you can do to boost your immunity and protect yourself from the inside out.
- Stop smoking at least two weeks before surgery or hospitalization. (Or better yet, quit permanently.) Smokers are three times more likely to develop infections at surgical sites than nonsmokers.
- Two weeks before surgery, cut out foods from your diet that suppress immunity, including sugar, trans fats, refined carbohydrates, and processed junk foods. Load up on antioxidant-rich whole foods, including organic fruits and vegetables.
- Two weeks before surgery, begin taking a strong probiotic as well as 4,000 mg of vitamin C daily, in divided doses of 500–1000 mg every few hours, to prevent gastrointestinal upset.
- One week before surgery, load up on vitamin D. The typical dosage is 5,000 IU per day, but to strengthen immunity, I recommend 10,000 IU daily.
None of these supplements thin your blood, so your medical team should have no issue with you taking them.
Innovations in MRSA Treatment
When it comes to MRSA, prevention is the best medicine. But, late last year, chemists at the University of Oklahoma created a new antibiotic formulation that could potentially treat and cure MRSA infections.
The new drug combines existing antibiotics with a polymer called BPEI. According to researchers, adding the polymer to existing antibiotics could give them new life. Ineffective drugs could once again treat and cure infections that have become resistant to standard treatment. While still in its early stages, this discovery is promising.
There’s another solution that has been shown to effectively treat antibiotic-resistant infections like MRSA, but you’ll rarely hear doctors talk about it: colloidal silver.
Colloidal silver has a centuries-long reputation as an antibiotic, antiviral, and antifungal agent. Unfortunately, the FDA branded it unsafe in 1999, partly due to the fact that over-ingesting it can lead to argyria, a rare and irreversible condition that turns the skin a bluish gray color.
The risk of serious harm from low doses, given over a short term, is slight, and oral use of colloidal silver is safe for short term administration if the dose is low. So look for a product with 500 ppm (part per million) and follow the directions carefully.
One study published earlier this year found that topical colloidal silver dressings inhibited the growth of various bacterial infections, including MRSA.
Under the care and watchful eye of a doctor experienced with using colloidal silver, this remedy can be a safe and effective way to kill antibiotic-resistant infections. Considering the alternative, colloidal silver is certainly worth a try.
- Gurusamy KS, et al. Antibiotic prophylaxis for the prevention of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) related complications in surgical patients. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2013 Aug 19. Accessed Aug 28, 2017.
- Vernon MO, et al. Chlorhexidine gluconate to cleanse patients in a medical intensive care unit: the effectiveness of source control to reduce the bioburden of vancomycin-resistant enterococci. Arch Intern Med. 2006 Feb 13;166(3):306-12. Accessed Aug 28, 2017.
- Foxley MA, et al. Efficacy of ampicillin against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus restored through synergy with branched poly(ethylenimine). J Antibiot. 2016 Dec;69(12):871-8. Accessed Aug 28, 2017.
- Tran PL, et al. The ability of a colloidal silver gel wound dressing to kill bacteria in vitro and in vivo. J Wound Care. 2017 Apr 1;26(sup4):S16-S24. Accessed Aug 28, 2017.
Last Updated: August 16, 2018
Originally Published: September 22, 2017