Can the quest to cover a pimple confine you to a wheelchair? As hard it is to believe, 27-year-old Australian Jo Gilchrist contracted a staph infection on Valentine’s Day, after using her best friend’s makeup brush, that left her immobile for life.

After contracting the infection, her body began to grow numb and she lost the feeling in her legs. The staph infection spread through the body and eventually attacked the spine. Dismissing the excruciating pain as caused by bad posture, Jo was distressed when nothing seemed to reduce it. As told to MailOnline, Jo said that the pain was worse than childbirth and she had never imagined this would happen to her. “My friend did have a staph infection on her face and I was using her brush just before. I had no idea that could even happen; I used to share with my friends all the time,” she explains.

Doctors at Warwick, Queensland took time to realize what had happened and she was airlifted to Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane. Finally doctors diagnosed Jo with community-associated MRSA—an antibiotic-resistant form of golden staph. Jo is still undergoing treatment and is expected to stay in a hospital for another three months.

What Is Staph Infection?
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), commonly known as staph infection, is bacterium that causes infections in different parts of the body. It is difficult to treat as it is resistant to some commonly used antibiotics. Though most MRSA infections may not be serious, some can be life-threatening. Community-associated MRSA (CA-MRSA), like the one Jo Gilchrist contracted, generally appear as red bumps that could resemble boils, spider bites or pimples. If ignored, it may turn into deep, painful abscesses that could need surgical draining. The bacterium often enters the skin through a graze, cut or a hair follicle.

Symptoms Of MRSA
1. Boils & Abscesses
The staph infection initially develops as a painful bump or a mark that resembles an insect bite. In some cases, it could cause a larger, pus-filled lump to develop under the skin.

2. Cellulitis
MRSA causes infections such as cellulitis, which is a bacterial infection that affects the deep layers of the skin and the layer of fat and soft tissue underneath it. The skin suddenly turns red, painful and swollen.

3. Invasive MRSA Infections
If the MRSA bacteria moves further in the body and into your blood, it can cause serious infections. Signs of an invasive infection could include a high fever of 38°C (100.4°F) or above, chills, dizziness, muscle aches and pains, feeling of tenderness or swelling in the affected part and a general sense of being unwell. Such infections could cause blood poisoning (sepsis), pneumonia, septic arthritis (joint inflammation caused by bacteria), endocarditis (infection of the lining of the heart), urinary tract infection and osteomyelitis (bone infection caused by bacteria).

Treatment
Your doctor would check a tissue sample or nasal secretions for signs of the drug resistant bacteria. Based on the diagnosis, the doctor may prescribe an antibiotic cream or an oral antibiotic. It is important to adhere to the planned dosage and take the pills on time. Failure to complete the full course of treatment may result in a relapse of the staph infection which might become resistant to antibiotics.

Prevention
1. Wash your hands thoroughly and often (every hour) with soap and water or use an alcohol-based sanitizer before eating anything outdoors.
2. Do not share personal items such as soaps, makeup, towels, razors and ointments.
3. Make sure your wounds are clean and bandaged.
4. Avoid the use of shared athletic equipment such as pads, helmets and gloves.

Herbs That Prevent It

1. Echinacea
Its strong antibiotic properties boost the immune system and help treat internal staph infections.[1]
How To Take It:
Brew an echinacea tea by boiling 1tbsp of the dried herb (leaves, flowers, root) with two cups of water. Steep for 15 minutes and drink once cool. You can add lemon and honey for flavor. Buy it here.

2. Goldenseal
This herb aids in fighting bacterial infections and reduces inflammation caused by them. Goldenseal has been traditionally used to treat skin infection and helps inhibit the toxin produce by MRSA.[2]
How To Take It: Steep a tea by boiling 3tsp of dried goldenseal in one cup of boiling water. Strain the liquid and, once cooled, soak a cotton ball and apply to the infected area. You can get it here.

3. Turmeric
The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, has a synergistic antibacterial effect against MRSA.[3]
How To Take It: Mix ½tsp of turmeric in a glass of warm milk and drink this twice daily for relief.

4. Tea Tree Oil
Staph infections that follow an athlete’s foot or similar fungal infections can be treated with tea tree oil. [4]
How To Take It: Apply a mixture of a few drops of tea tree oil with an equal amount of olive oil on the skin infection to obtain relief. You can buy it here.

5. Pau D’Arco

A herb with strong antimicrobial, antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties, Pau D’Arco is effective in fighting MRSA. [5]
How To Take It: Use 1tsp of the bark, and brew it into tea. You can get it here.

The content made available at Z Living has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or by any other governmental agency. It is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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References:
1. Hudson JB. Applications of the Phytomedicine Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) in Infectious Diseases. Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology. 2012;2012:769896. doi:10.1155/2012/769896.

2. Cech NB, Junio HA, Ackermann LW, Kavanaugh JS, Horswill AR. Quorum quenching and antimicrobial activity of goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Planta Med. 2012 Sep;78(14):1556-61. Epub 2012 Jul 18. PubMed PMID: 22814821.

3. Mun SH, Joung DK, Kim YS, Kang OH, Kim SB, Seo YS, Kim YC, Lee DS, Shin DW, Kweon KT, Kwon DY. Synergistic antibacterial effect of curcumin against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Phytomedicine. 2013 Jun 15;20(8-9):714-8. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2013.02.006. Epub 2013 Mar 26. PubMed PMID: 23537748.

4. Carson CF, Hammer KA, Riley TV. Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties. Clinical Microbiology Reviews. 2006;19(1):50-62. doi:10.1128/CMR.19.1.50-62.2006.

5. Pereira EM, Machado Tde B, Leal IC, et al. Tabebuia avellanedae naphthoquinones: activity against methicillin-resistant staphylococcal strains, cytotoxic activity and in vivo dermal irritability analysis. Ann Clin Microbiol Antimicrob. 2006 March 22;5:5.

6. Longo DL, et al. Harrison’s Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed March 3, 2014.

7. Cellulitis. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dermatologic_disorders/bacterial_skin_infections/cellulitis.html. Accessed March 4, 2014.

8. Fowler VG, et al. Clinical manifestations of Staphylococcus aureus infection. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 3, 2014.

9. General information about MRSA in the community. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/mrsa/community/index.html. Accessed March 3, 2014.

Armed with a PhD in Alternative Medicine, a graduate degree in Biotechnology, an MSc, and an MBA in Clinical Research and Clinical Pharmacology, Dr Jonathan is a certified practitioner of Alternative Medicine and is actively involved in patient education initiatives. He is also the author of the bestselling book, Outsmart Diabetes. Dr Jonathan loves to share his passion for herbs and other alternative medicinal practices with others through his writing.