Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What can I do, or use, to prevent multiple skin infections?"
Beginning last summer, as a 20 year old, male college student, I began to get periodic outbreaks of skin infections. They appear like large spider bites that are infected. One was 5 inches in diameter, raised, smooth surface, and warm. The infections made the infected portion (and surrounding areas) very sensitive to touch and sometimes nearly immobile. Once they began to show up more and in more different places I went to doctor. I was put on antibiotics. I finished my antibiotics but ever since I occasionally get one. I am always looking for signs of one and when I see one I take a prophylactic dose of antibiotics.
This is a great question as this problem is becoming more and more common. The likely cause of your spider bite-like bumps is an infection caused by MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus). You might have heard this strain of bacteria referred to as a "super bug" on the news. This is due to the fact that it is resistant to some commonly used antibiotics, which can make it more difficult to treat. The symptoms of MRSA depend on where the infection is, but most often it causes sores or boils on the skin as you have described. Although most cases are mild, MRSA can occasionally be life-threatening so it is important to seek care immediately if the infection is not responding to antibiotics. MRSA is spread by contact and is estimated to be carried by about 1% of the population. To prevent recurrence good hygiene is key. Wash your hands often and keep any openings in the skin such as cuts clean and covered until healed. Wash personal care items such as towels frequently and always use a clean razor when shaving. Only take prophylactic antibiotics under the guidance of a physician as frequent antibiotic use can lead to further resistance. Sometimes a large boil needs to be lanced and drained. I would recommend seeing an infectious disease specialist or dermatologist who sometimes will recommend skin washes and intranasal sprays to attempt to eradicate the bacteria.
Need more info?See a doctor today
Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.