Last year, my son had what looked like a large pimple on his collarbone. As gross as it sounds, we tried to pop it because it was bothering him. It put up quite a fight and I grew more concerned when it wouldn’t pop. I felt silly, but I took him to EmergiCare. The doctor removed it with a biopsy punch, assuming it was a cyst, and it tested benign. When another appeared months later, we found out what it really was and how dangerous the results could be.
When a teenaged boy has issues with acne, a parent doesn’t usually jump to worried conclusions. With puberty, one expects to see a few – or a few hundred – blemishes, but this was different. He complained that hurt, that his shirt couldn’t even touch it without irritating it. He couldn’t pop it; in fact, that seemed to make it worse. And since he’s had very few other pimples, and this looked nothing like them, a second visit to the doctor was necessary.
An Unexpected Diagnosis: MRSA
The doctor was definitely puzzled by the blemish and asked, what I thought, was a lot of questions for something so small. Once we discussed a previous removal of one that was similar, she knew what it was.
She explained to us that MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is a dangerous type of staph infection which often looks similar to a pimple. Some cases are harmless but some are resistant to treatments, including antibiotics, and can even cause death.
So odd. Something so small, so everyday looking, could turn out to be dangerous. MRSA is a virulent strain of bacteria known as Staphylococcus aureus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 25 percent of the population carries the staph bacteria on their skin. It can cause infection, such as my son experienced. MRSA is a strain of staph that is highly resistant to most antibiotics.
Precautions Against MRSA
The difficult part is that it’s often difficult to tell the difference between a pimple and a MRSA infection. We could tell when it didn’t pop – as gross as it sounds – that something wasn’t right. If you have a bump like this, it’s important to cover it and wash your hands so that you don’t spread the MRSA infection, as it’s very contagious.
They did put my son on antibiotics and suggested that he use antibacterial soap when he showers. We have him use white washcloths so that we can bleach them and we try to teach him to be careful and clean. Getting a teenaged boy to be cleaner than clean, especially when going through puberty, is difficult but he understand how important it is.