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MRSA affected: tips, tricks, avoidance schemes


Max2mus • April 4, 2011

About this Splore

This is here for 2 reasons:
1. Challenge 9 in the Splore iPad2 contest, and
2. To help/share info with those who recurringly get this annoying infection (Namely, me.)
If you have any tips, tricks or general avoidance information that you'd like to share, please feel free to do so. The only thins that I can say are both availible through prescription only: Hibiclens antimicrobial soap and Bactroban (mupirocin) cream on open sores.

Contributions Last updated almost 5 years ago

Barbara • September 6, 2011 at 10:52am

Honey is effective against antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Honey has several antibacteria properties. One of these is osmolarity. That is, the concentration of solute, particularly sugar, is very high. Living cells have to maintain an equilibrium with the environment around them. According to basic physics, the solution will seek an equilibrium (that is, the solute will eventually disperse through the solvent until the concentration is uniform). Here is the catch: cell membranes are what are called semi-permeable. The water can pass through, but larger solute molecules (like sugar) can't. There are special transporters for these things, but they tend to be slow and require energy expenditure. Plus, the concentration of certain solutes in the cell is important for biochemistry. Thus the cells have some ability to adapt to changes in the solute concentration (osmolarity) of their environment, but when this adaptive ability is exceeded their growth is stunted, or they may die. If cells are placed in a hypotonic solution (one with less solute than the cytoplasm) they will absorb water until enough pressure builds up to burst the cell membrane, which is called lysis. If, on the other hand, the solution is hypertonic (more solute than the cytoplasm) the water is drawn out of the cells until they shrivel and die, which is called crenation. This is what happens to bacteria that try to grow in honey.

As an example to picture this process, chop some strawberries and put them in two bowls. Sprinkle one with plenty of sugar and stir them up well. After a few minutes, examine the difference between the two. See how the ones with the sugar become so juicy? See how the strawberry pieces have shriveled? The high concentration of sugar outside the cells has drawn fluid out.

The ironic and slightly confusing thing here is that sugar is generally credited with killing the bacteria. But don't bacteria need sugar for food? In fact, almost all organisms metabolize sugars for energy. What makes the sugar lethal to the microbes is the concentration. If honey is diluted sufficiently, it can be fermented to produce an alcoholic beverage known as mead. The sugars in honey can, in fact, be food for microorganisms.

There are, however, other factors in some honeys that enhance their antimicrobial effects. One of these is the generation of hydrogen peroxide. Honey can actually give off low concentrations of hydrogen peroxide overtime, contributing to the antibacterial effect.

Also, since honey is made from plants, it may have additional properties from the plants the bees visited, including phytochemical antimicrobials. Most notably, manuka honey contains antibacterial compounds.

Overall, osmolarity is the classical view of honey's antibacterial properties and it is a basic principle of physics that most students are expected to learn in high school. The roles of hydrogen peroxide and phytochemicals are more complex and less well known, but they definitely play a significant role. Honey out performs sugar solutions as an antibacterial agent, and fact that some honeys are far more potent antibacterials than others is explained by these factors.

As a practical note, honey has been used to treat wounds for centuries. Common table honey is probably at least as effective as neosporin for preventing infection and promoting healing of cuts and scrapes. Highly potent antibacterial honeys are being investigated for treating drug resistant wound infections and promoting healing of serious injuries and burns.
You can also find alot of Molan's research indexed on, a database of medical journal abstracts and so forth maintained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.


Barbara • May 31, 2011 at 1:22am


I don't have that condition, but we reserve a tube of betadine for really bad infections. You can buy the liquid or small packets or a tube of it. It kills pretty much anything. Even impetigo. It's not a prescription, but the ointment can be hard to find. Ask your doctor if you can use it for MRSA and how to use it.