This page gives you information about MSSA (Meticillin-sensitive Staphylococcus Aureus) and its treatment.

What is MSSA?

Meticillin-sensitive Staphylococcus Aureus (MSSA) is a type of bacteria (germ) which lives harmlessly on the skin and in the nose, in about one third of people. People who have MSSA are said to be ‘colonised’.

MSSA colonisation usually causes no problems unless the bacteria enters the body. This will cause an infection and happens when the patient is unwell or when they have a surgical wound.

Why do we screen for MSSA?

Screening patients for MSSA allows colonised patients to be treated before they are admitted to hospital for surgery. This will reduce your risk of infection.

How is the screening done?

Swabs will be taken from your groin and both of your nostrils. This procedure is painless and will only take a few seconds.

The swabs will then be sent to the hospital laboratory for testing. It can take up to 5 days to receive the results.

What happens if I have MSSA?

If you are found to have MSSA the pre-admission team will let you know. This does not mean that you are ill and you will not put other healthy people at risk.

You will then start treatment, at home, to reduce the number of MSSA bacteria on your skin.

Treatment is a combination of an antiseptic body wash to clean your skin and hair and cream for your nose. You will start your treatment 5 days before your surgery. The 5th day of treatment must be the day of your surgery.

You will be advised to change your clothes every day for the 5 days while using the treatment. Daily changing of bed linen and towels is also recommended.

About the body wash treatment

  • Use for 5 days up to and including the day of your surgery for having a wash, bath or shower
  • Use the supplied antiseptic body wash instead of soap/other skin washes
  • Use the wash as a shampoo twice in this time (for example day 1 and day 4)
  • The 250ml bottle will be enough for the whole 5 day treatment

How to apply the body wash treatment Patient

See figures within the PDF at the bottom of the page for more detail
Step 1 Step 2 Step 3 Step 4 Step 5 Step 6 Step 7
Ensure that hair and body are wet Put the lotion onto a damp washcloth – do not dilute the wash. Use a fresh washcloth every day. Disposable cloths are better. Apply all over the hair and body paying particular attention to the highlighted areas Leave the lotion on the skin for 3 minutes before rinsing. Rinse off thoroughly Dry with clean dry towel Put on clean underclothes /nightwear every day

How to apply the Bactroban (Mupirocin 2%) nasal treatment

  • Use 3 times each day for 5 days. Put a small amount of the ointment, about the size of a match head, on a cotton bud or on a gloved finger and apply to the inside of each nostril (apply to the front part of the nostril)
  • Close the nostrils by pressing the sides of your nose together. This will spread the ointment through the nostrils

What will happen when I am admitted for surgery?

No further treatment, screening or special precautions will be needed while you are an inpatient. Staff will follow the standard infection control precautions during your stay in hospital.

Printable version of this page

MSSA_-_Screen_and_treatment_for_joint_replacement_and_spinal_surgery_GHPI1474_12_21 Department: Infection control Review due: December 2024 PDF, 280.0 KB, 3 pages
Reference number GHPI1474_12_21
Department Infection control
Review due December 2024