Two common antibiotics have been shown to be equally effective in treating uncomplicated community-acquired skin infections like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), according to a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine. The research was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Loren G. Miller, MD, MPH, from the University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues enrolled in the study 524 children and adults who had abscesses >5cm in diameter (smaller for younger children), cellulitis, or mixed infection (at least one abscess lesion and one cellulitis lesion). Patients were randomly assigned to receive either clindamycin or trimethoprim–sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX) for 10 days, with the primary outcome of clinical cure 7–10 days after the end of treatment.

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S. aureus was isolated in 41.4% of lesions, with 77% of isolates as MRSA. The proportion of patients cured were similar in the two treatment groups in the intention-to-treat population (80.3% for the clindamycin group and 77.7% for the TMP-SMX group) and in the populations of patients who could be evaluated (89.5% for the clindamycin group and 88.2% for the TMP-SMX group). No significant difference was observed among cure rates between the two treatments in subgroups of children, adults, and patients with abscess vs. cellulitis.

The authors conclude that treating uncomplicated community-acquired skin infections could be done inexpensively and successfully with either medication.

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