Family Practitioner Questions Bacterial Infections

Can a bacterial skin infection be spread from one person to another?

I have a bacterial skin infection. I'm nervous that the infection can spread to my husband or young daughter. Are bacterial skin infections contagious?

1 Answer

They can be especially with methicillin resistant staph aureus or MRSA skin infections. Good hygiene especially with the hands is key including alcohol based hand sanitizers. If you have sensitive skin consider using Gold Bond hand sanitizer cream as it is less prone to irritating the skin or hurting when you apply it to broken skin. Do not share towels. Decolonization is the process of reducing the amount of staph on the skin and in the nose. Mupirocin (Bactroban) is an antibacterial prescription ointment and we often recommend to use it in the nose the first 5 days of every month to reduce the amount of staph in the nose.

Bleach baths are an important component of this twice a week 1/2 cup of household bleach in a full tub of water. It sounds irritating but it's like a swimming pool and diluted enough that it shouldn't cause harm even with children with eczema. It's actually a common recommendation for kids with eczema to reduce their risk of skin infection. Ensure you are washing your towels in hot water to kill bacteria that could grow on them and consider using paper towel in the bathroom rather than hand towels. Staph bacteria can easily spread between close household contacts so make sure everyone is on the same page so it doesn't continue to spread.