Purpose of review: Staphylococcus aureus skin and soft tissue infections (SSTI) are a major source of morbidity. More than half of patients experiencing SSTI will have at least one recurrent infection. These infections frequently cluster in households. Given the burden these infections pose to patients and healthcare, prevention strategies are of major clinical importance and represent an active area of research. Bacterial colonization is frequently an early and critical step in the pathogenesis of infection. As such, strategies to prevent reinfection have aimed to decrease staphylococcal colonization of the skin and mucus membranes, a process referred to as decolonization.
Recent findings: Treatment of acute SSTI with incision and drainage and systemic antibiotics is the mainstay of therapy for healing of the acute infection. Systemic antibiotics also provide benefit through reduced incidence of recurrent SSTI. Education for patients and families regarding optimization of personal and household hygiene measures, and avoidance of sharing personal hygiene items, is an essential component in prevention efforts. For patients experiencing recurrent SSTI, or in households in which multiple members have experienced SSTI, decolonization should be recommended for all household members. A recommended decolonization regimen includes application of intranasal mupirocin and antiseptic body washes with chlorhexidine or dilute bleach water baths. For patients who continue to experience recurrent SSTI, periodic decolonization should be considered. Personal decolonization with topical antimicrobials and antiseptics reduces the incidence of recurrent S. aureus SSTI. Future avenues for investigation include strategies for household environmental decontamination as well as manipulation of the host microbiota.
Keywords: Decolonization; Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus; Prevention; Skin and soft tissue infection; Staphylococcus aureus.