This past Friday was the third resurgence of the dreaded Staph infection. Poor Kylie. When you manage to contract something 3 times, you do learn a few things. I thought it might be prudent to share this information as locally speaking, there has been a bit of an outbreak.
Kylie’s Staph began with uncontrollable eczema. While eczema has countless causes, it’s characterized by patches of rough, dry skin. That inherent dryness leads to itching and scratching and finally, the skin barrier begins to break down. With that in mind, we are all carriers of viruses and bacteria. Our skin is our greatest defense. Broken skin is an open invitation for infection. Yes, good hygiene is a must but what we failed to consider is just how quickly an infection can set in. For instance, how often do you think public playgrounds are properly disinfected? What about the library? or the beach? There are no efficient ways to keep these places clean.
The kids and I will typically spend about an hour or two, every other day at any one of these places. Bath time is usually just before bed. That would give the offending virus or bacteria up to 8 hours to attack. When the skin is working properly, this is a non-issue. Those with eczema however, are more prone to infection and reinfection. Therefore, if your child has open wounds from scratching, blisters or the beginnings of a flare up, clean and cover the area. In Kylie’s case, she is not able to go to her favorite fountains until her eczema has completely healed.
When disinfecting your home, it’s important to know your products. A few months back, I wrote a post on homemade household cleaners. Sadly, vinegar is not believed to be strong enough to kill Staph. Ky’s dermatologist recommended Clorox and Lysol instead. It’s also very important to actually read the disinfecting instructions on the back of the bottle. For many products, it’s not simply spray and wipe. If you are feeling some green guilt over this one, there are better ways to be kind to the Earth. Some of these infections are serious enough to cause life long illnesses, if not death.
There are times when prevention is truly out of your hands. In which case, you need to know the signs of an infection. This article from Ehow is good general reference for identifying infections. Ky went to the ER the first time this year because her blisters were spreading like wildfire and she was in serious pain. For the second and third rounds, I made same-day appointments with her dermatologist because it looked like Staph. Thankfully, by catching the infection early, we bypassed hospitalization.
I will say, one of the best things we did during Ky’s outbreak was taking pictures. We took close up pictures of her sores when she woke up and just before bedtime. If there was a significant change during the day, we took pictures of that too. This enabled us to track changes and to better communicate with her doctors and nurses. I also took pictures of every prescription. Inevitably, you will be asked what prescriptions the child is taking and who can honestly keep track?
Once infected, try to keep your child comfortable. Kylie couldn’t take a bath or use creams for a week because anything that touched her sores burned. For nearly 3 days, she lived in Will’s t shirts sans undies and that’s ok. New skin can be fragile and ripping it off or washing it away, especially when your patient is in agony is just silly. As with most things, check with your doctor first.
I almost feel the need to add in a last bit of common sense here but when given a prescription, fill it immediately and give the first dosage as soon as possible. In many cases, after the child receives their first dose of antibiotics, they are no longer contagious. With Staph, the sooner you get the antibiotics in their system, the less severe the outbreak becomes.
Today my daughter is bouncing around and seemingly back to normal but she continues to take her medicine. Why? Because failure to do so may result in another outbreak and a more resistant outbreak at that. Staph is scary enough, please use the antibiotics as prescribed.
With a good medical team, awareness and open communication, we can keep our kids safe. If you would like more information on Staph, check out this article at medicinenet.com.