A lot of kids – and adults – with autism have issues with picking. By this I mean picking at scabs, bug bites, or even healthy skin. Continually. Sometimes even to the point of developing recurring staph infections.
But nobody really wants to hear about that sort of thing. When someone reads about picking and staph (including MRSA), what they really want to hear about are solutions.
I know this because we’ve been there. And it’s not a happy place.
After a year and a half of dealing with picking habits and recurring MRSA infections, we were at our wit’s end. Our pediatricians prescribed antibiotics, looked up information for us, and didn’t know what else to do. We did our research and came up with pretty much the same things they had already told us.
But we did finally defeat the MRSA. Our son’s been free of staph infections for over a year now (thank heavens), and has just recently stopped picking at his skin. In fact, we went out to celebrate his freedom from this potentially dangerous habit (much praise, celebration, and happiness) this past weekend.
Here are the things we did, all recommended by various pediatricians:
- Use Bactroban (Mupirocin), a nasal gel (since staph is commonly found inside the nose) on a regular basis. Some pediatricians also recommend that the entire family use it, to reduce chances of the infection spreading, since one may be a carrier without even realizing it.
- Use Hibiclens (an antiseptic, antimicrobial skin cleanser) once a week. We had our son use it 3 days a week when on antibiotics (this was recommended by our pediatrician), and once a week when he appeared fine. We still use it as a preventive measure once every few weeks.
- Wash towels often, every day or every other day. Sometimes I think this is what turned the tide; when we started rotating through hand towels at a quicker rate, he started getting better. Some people recommend ditching them entirely and going for paper towels in the bathrooms.
- No sharing of towels.
- Put a tiny amount of bleach in the bath water. This was recommended, but we didn’t do it very often… it kinda freaked me out. Hey, I’m only human.
- Aveeno oatmeal baths every so often to soothe irritated skin. This reduces not only the urge to pick, but also helps prevent small skin breaks.
- Keep clean and cover areas of infection. Be aware of how contagious they can be, and wash hands immediately after treatment.
- Frequent hand washing.
- Get rid of bar soap and use only pump soap. One of our pediatricians also recommended Dial soap.
We also did more extreme things – one will do a lot after a few months of seemingly never-ending infections – like washing everything in the house, wiping down counters, floors, and bathtubs with bleach, discarding bath toys, throwing out old clothes that constantly came into contact with sores, and so forth.
If you are going through this nightmare, please know that there are a lot of people who have been there and still succeeded – after time and much effort – in breaking free of it. There are things that can be done to reduce the potential for re-infection.
Here are two sites with recommendations about MRSA: