What is MRSA?
Each year worldwide, people young and old alike, develop an infection from the drug-resistant staphylococcus bacteria. This bacteria, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is known as (MRSA). MRSA is now resistant to even the most common antibiotics used today. This bacteria naturally accumulates, as part of our “normal flora” on the skin and inside our noses, causing no major issue. However, if it gets inside the body, for instance, under the skin or it spreads to an organ or body system, you are now at risk of infection. Such infections are usually treated using antibiotics. MRSA, now being resistant to antibiotics, makes infections even more of a challenge to find effective treatment. (6)
Allopathic medicine primarily relies on antibiotics to fight bacterial infections. Some antibiotics are naturally reoccurring and some synthetic or man-made substances that have proven capable of killing or limiting the growth of the bacterium.
“Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is an example of a ‘superbug’ or bacteria that has developed resistance to methicillin, which is an antibiotic class known as the beta-lactams. Beta-lactam antibiotics are capable of killing a variety of Gram positive and Gram negative microorganisms by impairing the cell’s ability to form peptidoglycan, a necessary component for cell structure and stability. Bacteria that have become resistant developed enzymes known as penicillinases and beta-lactamases, which are capable of destroying the beta-lactam ring structure or functional group of these antibiotics.” (7) This bacterium once colonized, can turn life threatening in a very short period of time, especially in children.
The infection begins where the epidermis has been compromised by a small cut, puncture, abrasion or bug bite. Allowing opportunity for the bacteria to enter the body. If noticed immediately, it can be quickly and easily treated at home. Left unnoticed or untreated and it can literally, spread to an organ or body system, and through the bloodstream. It is of utmost importance for parents to be aware and take notice of symptoms.
Why Are Children At Risk?
MRSA is a valid concern, as it is harder to treat than other infections due to its resistance. Your can have an un-compromised, immune system and still contact MRSA. This is known as community CA-MRSA. It branches out to those in the community from skin to skin contact. This happens repeatedly each day with children sharing equipment at day care centers, schools, playgrounds, play centers and gym facilities, so know the signs and symptoms.
Know The Signs & Symptoms
A) An unusual bump:
- May or may not be painful.
- Swollen, hard or hot to the touch
- You notice that size increases in a short period of time.
- It may be, filled with fluid.
- It may resemble a boil.
*Do not try and drain the boil/lesion on your own, you could cause the bacteria to spread.
B) Your child may experience:
- Flu like symptoms
- Head or body aches
- Blood in urine or bowel movement
- Trouble breathing
* Usually, MRSA is not a medical emergency. But if experiencing symptoms in case (2), contact your Dr. immediately.
C) If left unnoticed and untreated
- It may infect others when they come into skin to skin contact.
- Damage tissue in surrounding areas.
- Get infected and spread throughout the body.
Can MRSA be prevented?
Although serious, you can take steps to prevent the infection:
- Wash your hands frequently and teach your children to do the same.
- Change bandages daily.
- Keep affected area covered with sterile bandages.
- Do not touch infected areas.
- Do not share personal care items.(Utensils, Towels, Toothbrushes)
- Regularly disinfect toys and equipment in your home.
- Tell others you have an infection so they too can take precautionary steps.
Why You May Want To Use Natural Remedies First
It may take time, to find an antibiotic that is not resistant to CA-MRSA. Synthetic medications may cause minor to harsh side effects such as nausea, vomiting, additional skin rashes and even diarrhea, constipation or sun sensitivity. It is your right, as the parent to participate in your child’s care. Share your concerns with your caregiver or health professional. Discuss options for treatment that are best suited for your family.
Using Essential Oils To Safely Treat MRSA In Children
First and foremost, when dealing with a childhood illness, such as a bacterial infection, is the safety & contraindications when preparing applications for children. Age, weight and overall health of the child also comes into play, when determining appropriate choices to self-treat your child.
Essential oils have been used for generations in the past and today as medicine. In France, they are often prescribed by medical doctors instead of antibiotics. Essential Oils are highly regarded as essential oil experts and their studies have proven to be effective against infectious diseases, both internally and on the skin. (2)
Tea tree is considered a safe alternative to drug therapies for treating MRSA skin infections. This oil is most commonly used for topical application onto skin infections. It’s also proven suitable and effective, in natural based, antibacterial hand soaps, sanitizing sprays and other household products. (2)
The essential oils of grapefruit, lemongrass and clary sage, demonstrated to be highly effective… in inhibiting MRSA on patients admitted to hospitals. The results indicate these essential oils may be further tested to understand their clinical application as potential dermally applicable ointments to alleviate MRSA. Essential oils could also be effective agents for healing infectious disease in people, in countries where antibiotics are not currently available. (2)
Ninety-one essential oils, each distilled from a single plant source, and obtained commercially, were tested using the “disc diffusion assay” to determine their ability to inhibit methicillin-resistant activity. Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). HOWEVER, only a handful within those oils was shown to be safe for children between 2 & 5 years of age. Staph Infection Resources has more information here.
Of those tested:
- Lemongrass ~ Cymbopgon citratus
- Lemon Eucalyptus ~ Eucalyptus citriodora
- Pine ~ Pinus strobus
- Cypress ~ Cupressus sempervirens
- Lavender ~ Lavandula angustifolia
- Spruce ~ Picea sitchensis
- Roman Chamomile ~ Anthemis nobilis
- Ylang Ylang ~ Cananga odorata
- Frankincense ~ Boswellia carterii
- Orange ~ Citrus sinesis
- Lemon Myrtle ~ Backhousia citriodora
These results indicate that essential oils used alone and in combination, can inhibit MRSA in vitro. Application of these results may include the potential use of essential oils as an alternative therapy for various diseases sustained by S. aureus MRSA. (3)
A combination of Citricidal (grapefruit seed extract) and Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) oil showed the greatest anti-bacterial effects against MRSA. A combination of Geranium and Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) oil, was highly active against the methicillin-resistant S. aureus. This study demonstrates the potential of essential oils and even their vapors through the form of diffusion, as effective antibacterial agents for use in the treatment of MRSA infection AND safe for children between the age 2 & 5 years of age. (1)
“Plant essential oils have been used for hundreds of years as natural medicines to combat a multitude of pathogens, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses . Several essential oils confer antimicrobial activity by damaging the cell wall and membrane, leading to cell lysis, leakage of cell contents, and inhibition of proton motive force. In addition, there is evidence that they effectively kill bacteria without promoting the acquisition of resistance. Finally, many essential oils are relatively easy to obtain, have low mammalian toxicity, and degrade quickly in water and soil, making them relatively environmentally friendly.” (4)
Essential oils have proven effective against CA-MRSA. However, the same oils you would use on a child to treat MRSA or any other infections, cannot always be used on an adult. Therefore careful planning is necessary. Getting a professional aromatherapy blending consultation for proper use of essential oils with children at risk for MRSA is recommended. Visit the Institute's Consultation page to make an appointment.
Know the signs and symptoms of MRSA and act quickly. Recognize them in your family. Make your concern heard by your medical professional and refuse to go home or demand further tests and treatment. A responsive diagnosis, along with effective treatment can make the difference between life and death.
Resources for Families:
Useful links for more information on MRSA and staphylococcus aureus:
Centers for Disease Control, MRSA in Schools
Centers for Disease Control, Staphylococcus aureus