Does Hydrogen Peroxide Kill MRSA?

MRSA is also called as the “superbug”. MRSA is a kind of bacteria that is highly resistant to some of the most commonly used antibiotics including penicillin group. MRSA normally resides on the surface of our skin and also in our nasal cavities. It is harmless unless it enters our body via blood and open wounds like cuts and scratches.

There are two types of infections cause by MRSA:

  1. Healthcare Associated MRSA (HA-MRSA)- Seen in patients with prolonged hospital stay due to some severe disease and in patients with reduced immunity.
  2. Community Acquired MRSA (CA-MRSA)- Infection spreads from one person to other through open wounds like cuts, abrasions, by use of same syringes while taking intravenous drugs, in male homosexuals through anal canal, etc.

Does Hydrogen Peroxide Kill MRSA?

Does Hydrogen Peroxide Kill MRSA?

Hydrogen peroxide is a transparent and colorless liquid that has strong oxidizing properties. It is used as a disinfectant to disinfect the surfaces of rooms and also as an antiseptic to prevent infection of wounds.

Hydrogen peroxide kills the MRSA bacteria by damaging their cell structure with the help of its strong oxidizing properties. However the concentration of this chemical used is really vital. The higher the concentration the more is its bacteria killing rate. When the concentration is low the bacteria does not get killed because it produces an enzyme named catalase and this enzyme breaks down hydrogen peroxide to oxygen and water making it non workable. This leaves the bacteria unaffected. But when higher concentration of this chemical is used, the bacteria does not have enough power to produce that much of catalase that can break down all the hydrogen peroxide molecules and this leads to destruction of the cell structure of the bacteria eventually causing their death.

On the other hand like there are disadvantages of using any chemical in higher concentration same way using higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide has its own health hazards so entry in the room must be allowed only when the chemical becomes harmless and until that period the room must be kept closed for it to work properly.

Hydrogen peroxide kills MRSA effectively because of its special properties that do not let MRSA to gain resistance. Other disinfectants like the ones containing ammonia lead to bacteria gaining resistance against it and leading to its ineffectiveness. Hence, hydrogen peroxide is widely used as compared to other disinfectants.

3% hydrogen peroxide is used as an antiseptic that is applied on the skin. Concentrated hydrogen peroxide (around 5% to 10% and sometimes even 35%) is used to disinfect the surfaces in the rooms like tabletops, beds, etc. Lower concentration of hydrogen peroxide is used on skin because higher concentration may cause skin burns and severe damage to the skin.

Along with cleaning the surfaces attention must be paid towards cleaning the clothing that comes in contact with the bacteria. Proper sanitary techniques like regular cleaning and hand washing must be used to reduce the chances of spreading the infection. (1) (2)

Other Methods To Kill MRSA:

Bleach- The chemical name for bleach is sodium hypochlorite. It has potential to kill MRSA as well as other staphylococcus species. The requirement is that the solution must be prepared freshly each time and proper concentration of the chemical must be used for desired effect. (3)

Lysol- Not all the Lysol products kill MRSA. There are some that do but many that don’t. You must check the potentiality of the product in killing MRSA through their websites or by the label on the product. (4)

There are numerous disinfectants available that kill MRSA but many of them are not environment friendly and may be harmful to your health so choose wisely. The harmful chemicals can enter your body through air by inhalation or via absorption through skin and may lead to various toxic effects. For example- when the phenol from the disinfectant gets into your body it causes symptoms like fainting, diarrhea, dizziness and may also lead to liver failure.

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has approved some of the disinfectants that can be used without any harm so the approved ones must only be used.
MRSA infection chances can be drastically reduced by basic logical practices like proper hand washing with normal soap and water.

Conclusion

Hydrogen peroxide has the ability to kill the superbug or MRSA but the most important aspect that decides its strength is the concentration of the chemical used. 3%-5% is used as an antiseptic on the wounds so it is of no use to kill the bacteria present on other non-living surfaces. The time required to kill the bacteria also reduces when higher concentration is used; so proper concentration of hydrogen peroxide must be used to get the desired results.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27324207
  2. http://www.aseptix.com/flashblocks/data/PDF/MRSA.pdf
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/mrsa/community/environment/athletic-facilities.html
  4. https://www.lysol.com/media/2127/lysol-kills-99-of-viruses-bacteria-including-mrsa.pdf

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