MRSA Decolonization

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Many people have been exposed to a germ called Staphylococcus aureus. These germs can live on your skin and in your nose. Some of these specific germs are resistant to certain antibiotics. They are called Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, also known as MRSA. The removal of MRSA is called "decolonization". Decolonization may help reduce the risk of spreading the germs to others and help to avoid future infections.

Based on testing and health needs, your practitioner may determine that decolonization is right for you. If your practitioner prescribes decolonization, there are two parts to the treatment:

  • Rubbing ointment into each of your nostrils twice a day for 5 days
  • Taking a shower or bath using a special soap once a day for up to 5 days while you are using the nasal ointment.

Your doctor may prescribe the ointment and soap, as well as oral medicines.

Instructions for Use

How to Use the Nasal Ointment (Mupirocin/Bactroban 2%)

You will need a prescription for your ointment. It will come in several small, single-use tubes or in one larger tube.

  • If you have the small tubes, you should use half of a tube inside each nostril each time you apply the ointment. Throw away the small tube and use a new one next time.
  • If you have the large tube, you should use a pea-sized amount of ointment inside each nostril each time you apply the ointment. Save the large tube and use it for all your doses.
  1. Clean your hands using a sanitizer gel or wash with soap and water for 15 to 20 seconds just before using your ointment.
  2. Tilt your head back and use a cotton swab to apply the ointment to the inside of each nostril.
  3. Press your nostrils together and massage for about 1 minute.
  4. Do not get the ointment near your eyes. If any of it gets into your eyes, rinse them well with cool water.
  5. Apply the nasal ointment two times every day for 5 days unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
  6. Clean your hands using a sanitizer gel or wash with soap and water for 15 to 20 seconds as soon as you are finished.
  7. Do not use any topical medicines or inside the nose medicines (such as nasal sprays) during the 5 days you are using the ointment.

How to Use the Soap (4% Chlorhexidine) (Hibiclens)

You will be given a prescription for this wash.  Use about 2 tablespoons of soap for each application in the shower.

  1. First, shampoo and rinse your hair with your usual shampoo. This is done first so the Hibiclens soap is not washed off by your shampoo.
  2. Using a clean washcloth, apply the Hibiclens to all areas from the neck down. Be careful not to get the soap in your eyes, ears, or mouth.
  3. Make sure to wash your entire body from the neck down, paying special attention to any open wounds, incisions, or areas of infection. The soap will not bubble or lather very much, and that is fine.
  4. If you get the soap in your eyes, ears or mouth: rinse well with cool water and contact your medical provider or The Central Ohio Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.
  5. When you have covered your whole body with the soap, leave it on your skin for 2 minutes. Then rinse thoroughly.
  6. Do not wash with any other soap or cleanser after you have done this Hibiclens wash.
  7. Dry off with a clean towel and put on clean clothing.
  8. Do not apply any further skin care to your body.

MRSA Decolonization (PDF)

HH-IV-201 6/18 | Copyright 2018, Nationwide Children’s Hospital