The seriousness of skin infections…a cautionary tale!

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*Note – After sharing our story about what happened with Baby Brother leading to his admittance to the hospital, some of my fellow mom friends have urged me to post about our experience here in the hopes that it helps other families. So, I’m sharing about our personal experience from Baby Brother being in the hospital last week. I am not a Dr. and this is not medical advice – just sharing of the information I’ve learned as a mama with a sick little one from a skin infection. If you suspect that your kiddo has a skin infection (especially if you think they have an infection and are running a fever), I urge you to get it checked out by a pediatrician asap! Skin Infections in Kids

Wow, y’all…I never envisioned writing a post like this. But, I think it’s super important! Skin infections are NO joke!! I know you maybe have heard that before or you already “know” that. But, WOW! We just spent close to 72 hours in the hospital because of Baby Brother’s infection, something I would have never anticipated just a day or two before. For the the full back story on that, you can click here —> Baby Brother in the hospital. babybrother_hospital1The update to that original story is that thankfully we are home from the hospital, but his infection did come back as MRSA. Ugh!  So first up, some facts about MRSA…

  • MRSA is a type of staph infection, caused by a certain type of Staphlococcus aureous bacteria. It can be more serious than a “regular” staph infection because of its resistance to certain antibiotics.
  • Staph (MRSA or otherwise) can live normally on the skin and in the nose (some people are actually carriers of it). Yes, really! In fact, you or your child could be a carrier of it naturally and not even know it!
  • MRSA can still be treated with antibiotics (Baby Brother is on clindamycin and the infection is responding well to it).
  • You don’t necessarily know that an infection is MRSA just by looking at it (though there are some typical characteristics) – a culture is needed to determine the type of infection for sure.
  • MRSA is everywhere! Ok, well maybe that statement isn’t entirely true, but the point is that MRSA is commonplace – it could be on your hands right now! MRSA could be on the door handle of the room you just walked into, the grocery cart handle, your cell phone, the equipment at the gym, the desks at school, the play equipment in the kids’ jungle gym, anywhere!
  • MRSA can occur in intact skin!

So, this last point is what I want to focus on, as many have asked about Baby Brother’s infection & how he got it. I know that if most of you saw some oozy, weepy, pus-filled, wound-looking thing on your child it would likely raise a red flag or cause for alarm. If you search pictures of MRSA on google, you’ll be flooding with some nasty looking wounds. But, that’s NOT what we were dealing with. Baby Brother’s infection was on intact skin. So, I didn’t have any additional “warning” so to speak. I hadn’t been monitoring some “owie” for infection. It literally sort of appeared out of nowhere. Here’s what it looked like before we went the the ER (other than being cropped from an iphone shot, this has not been edited at all): intact skin mrsa infectionYou can see that it was a large red area by the time we went into the hospital. What you can’t see in the picture is that it was hard. In fact, the center area was hard as a rock. But, there was no open sore, nor had there recently been any open sore in that area. So, how did he get it then? Well, the doctors believe that the virus he had earlier in the month and then the epic yeast infection made him more susceptible (his immune system was already compromised). Those issues likely made some small breaks in the skin that enabled bacteria to get in. Where did he get it from?! Who knows! Anyone that changed his diaper could have had it on their hands or Baby Brother could have had in on his hands and transferred it by touch during a diaper change.

What did it look like when you first noticed it? It was a red area about the size of a nickel when I first noticed it (a Saturday night). Honestly, it just looked like a welt or sort of like a bug bite, but wasn’t hard. It was worse by Sunday night and had the pediatrician’s office been open on Monday, I would have gone in because it was about as big as it was in the picture by sometime on Monday. Hindsight being 20-20, we should have just gone to the hospital on Monday instead of waiting for the pediatrician on Tuesday. But, because it didn’t look nasty, so I wasn’t thinking MRSA. I don’t know what I was thinking exactly, but I know that I wasn’t thinking it was as serious as it was.

If you’re already familiar with MRSA or skin infections, then that might sound totally stupid to you. But, I know there have to be other moms & dads out there that wouldn’t have known either. Mr. Mom Endeavors and I are well-educated folks in this area even (he has a PhD in immunology & microbiology and I taught high school biology). We usually know our stuff, but this just initially didn’t seem that worrisome. In fact, I was WAY more concerned about a small pus-filled sore in a totally different location on Baby Brother because of how nasty that looked (which funnily enough went away entirely on its own before we even got the pediatrician’s office). So, that’s one of my words of caution with skin infections – it doesn’t have to look disgusting or particularly “nasty” to be caused by a really nasty/dangerous “bug”.

Another word of caution is that things can get bad fast! This stupid thing wasn’t even there until Saturday night and he was admitted to the hospital for 3 days by Tuesday night with a fever of 105.3! And, I’ve now learned from the doctors that this rapid growth is a classic characteristic of MRSA. In fact, the Kid’s Doctor site has a great post about staph infections appearing quickly! So, there was no warning sign before it appeared and it got bad quickly. Baby Brother was also running a fever (on and off for a few days). That originally didn’t worry me either because we all know that little ones can often run fevers (they’re coming down with a cold, they’re teething, etc. etc.). But, in this case, a fever and the red spot were HUGE red flags.

Our pediatrician was certainly concerned, but not even concerned enough to send us right to the hospital. The warning signs he told me to look for weren’t even there when I decided to take him in. It was just my gut-instinct that this was bad and I didn’t want to risk it! Thank GOD for that mama intuition!

So, here’s what I want other parents to take away from this:

  • Be observant of your kids’ bodies! As they get older, encourage them to tell you immediately if something hurts, looks weird, etc.
  • Be cautious about skin infections – when in doubt, see your Dr. asap. Not all skin infections are MRSA, but it is definitely a real possibility. Even if it’s not MRSA, “regular” staph infections can still be serious!
  • A fever + infection = not good!😉 If your kiddo has a combination of those two things, do NOT wait in getting them checked out! And, from now on, when my boys have an “unexplained” fever, I WILL be looking them over for any “off-looking” skin issues.
  • Trust your gut!!!!! If you have that nagging feeling that something is wrong or doesn’t look right, then get it checked out asap.


Thankfully, all seems to be well now. We received great care at the Children’s Hospital and the Dr. was fabulous about answering all my questions related to his case and MRSA in general. As you can imagine, with our biology-nerd backgrounds, there were LOTS of questions! So, I hope that some of this info is good for other parents!

Wash your hands!!! Trust your gut! And, be careful with infections!

For another great article on MRSA in children check out this post from Two Peds in a Pod here!

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I’m Sara, a mom to three adorable boys living in the Arizona desert. As a former teacher, I love sharing my passions with others. So, have a look around for creative inspiration about cooking, creating, celebrating, traveling with kids, and more everyday mom endeavors!


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23 Responses

  1. Well done for great advice and for bringing this subject up. I found this through a pinterest link and I really hope it spreads far. I am an MRSA carrier and even after really drastic treatment it still comes back. After I had my 4 year old, both he and I were ill almost immediately after delivering. Thankfully our Dr picked it up quick – we both had active MRSA infection. My son bounced back quickly,thankfully. It took me weeks. I now know that even when drs feel that they have ‘cured’ me, I will be positive again in months. This scared me for a while, but a consultant microbiologist explained it was common and that in theory i’m not a walking public menance, which is how I felt – like I was infecting everyone I came across.

    I would add one more piece of advice: if you have a regular infection and are on antibiotics, if it starts to get better then stops improving – go back and ask for a swab to culture it. Especially if you’ve ever had MRSA before. Even if you haven’t – this was how they worked out my infection the first time round and also subsequent infections since… 2 days into treatment the progress halts, don’t wait till it gets worse again – just go back and say it’s not getting any better. I’m currently fighting yet another infection on my leg – initially from a house fly bite, but being a carrier that’s all it takes.

    1. Claire,
      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! How scary that must have been after just delivering a baby. I’m so sorry you have to routinely deal with it. 🙁 That’s a great tip about watching infections for improvement!

  2. So glad to hear baby brother is responding well to his meds. What a scare. And thanks for the warning and info. I am a firm believer in hand washing, washing , washing….
    Big Hugs to all….

    1. Thank you, Carol! It was a scare for sure! Just thankful that everything (for now at least) seems to be headed in a positive direction! Fingers crossed that this is the last of it! And, yes, hand-washing is a GREAT thing! 🙂

  3. I’m SO glad he’s doing better. My mom had to deal with MRSA once and it was a scary situation. And I agree with you – better to be safe and cautious than having something serious occur!

  4. When my son was born, I got a bad staph infection from the epidural. It caused an abscess much like his, but right by my sciatic nerve. The pain was so bad I had to have physical therapy to even walk out of the hospital. I can only imagine what would have happened had it been MSRA.

    1. Oh my gosh, Laurel! I cannot even imagine how painful that would have been. And, how scary too! Regular staph can be super dangerous too. So glad you’re ok!

  5. Any odd skin rash or bump in our house gets examined now. My two older boys had MRSA 3 years ago that started out looking like a spider bite. We battled it for over 3 months. Then this past summer my now 8 yr old had it again and my 3 yr old had his first infection. Turns out my kids are carriers. My 3 yr old is battling it again as I comment. I don’t play with an odd looking skin thing anymore- because as you stated it can get nasty quickly. Thanks for sharing your story- because before it happened to my kids I never would have guessed MRSA.

    1. Oh my goodness, Amanda! I’m so sorry you have to routinely deal with this. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment!

  6. I knew a mom of two young kids who died of a sudden MRSA infection. While a case like that is not frequent, it just shows how serious these skin infections can be. Your “mama” instincts were dead on. Whether it’s your kids or you, if you see a sudden unexplained spot that seems to be growing, especially with a fever, don’t wait. So thankful Baby Brother was successfully treated.

    1. Oh Cindy, that is so sad! 🙁 I am so, so thankful that we got to the hospital when we did. This was awful enough as it was. Scary stuff for sure. Thanks for commenting.

  7. What an absolutely scary scary thing! So happy you trusted your mommy instinct and that you are all home now. Thank you so much for sharing this so we can all be informed!

  8. Very good article! My 21 month old daughter is going through the same thing right now. Hers started the very same way. I have shared your story because I think the pictures invaluable.

  9. So how has your son been since then? I’m in the hospital now with my 18 month old daughter. Your story was like mine, but I took her in asap. Do you have any advice, I have a lot of kids and dont really know anything about mrsa, and how to deal with all of our kids and my babies mesa ?

    1. Hi Cassandra,
      I’m SO sorry you’re dealing with this. It was VERY scary! I’m happy to report that he is 100% fine. He hasn’t had any infections since and he recovered well once they got the infection under control at the hospital.

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