Methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus, or MSSA, is a skin infection that is not resistant to certain antibiotics.
MSSA normally presents as pimples, boils, abscesses or infected cuts, but also may cause pneumonia and other serious skin infections. MSSA affects people of all ages and has been known to cause outbreaks among sports teams, families, prison inmates and people who live and work in close quarters, such as military recruits.
MSSA colonizes the skin, causing no symptoms and without causing infection, but then may later lead to infection. The infection spreads via direct skin-to-skin contact and also may spread via contact with contaminated items or surfaces. The sharing of contaminated personal items with someone who has MSSA — towels, sheets, razors, clothes or sports equipment — increases the likelihood of spreading the infection.
Confirmation of MSSA infection is commonly done by culturing the infected tissue. In the setting of other known cases of MSSA, common skin lesions suggest diagnosis.
Although antibiotics are used to treat MSSA infection, not all MSSA infections require antibiotics as the drainage of small abscesses may be all that is required. A physician can determine the appropriate treatment, and medicated soaps may be prescribed to reduce the amount of MSSA on the skin.
One of the most important ways to prevent the spread of MSSA is by frequent hand-washing with medicated soap or using alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Additional ways to prevent the spread include not sharing towels or clothing, avoiding body shaving and avoiding injections other than those prescribed by a doctor.
Any cuts or wounds should be kept clean, dry and covered. Early diagnosis and treatment may reduce the chance of developing severe infection.