(MRSA) is a potentially serious infection that resists antibiotics. MRSA can affect the skin, blood, bones, or lungs. A person can either be
There are two types of MRSA infections: Community-acquired—getting the infection outside of a healthcare setting, such as a hospital or clinicNosocomial—getting the infection while inside a healthcare setting
MRSA can spread several ways: Contaminated surfacesPerson-to-personFrom one area of the body to another
MRSA is caused by specific bacteria that resist antibiotics. Over time, bacteria adapt to repeated exposure to antibiotics, building up a resistance to them.
Factors that may increase your chance of developing MRSA include:
Impaired immunitySharing crowded spaces such as dormitories or locker roomsUsing IV drugsHaving a serious illnessAge: ChildBeing an athlete, especially in sports using direct contact such as wrestling and footballBeing a prisonerBeing a member of the militaryExposure to animals such as being a pet owner, veterinarian, or pig farmerUsing antibioticsHaving a chronic skin disorderHaving a woundBeing infected with MRSA in the past
Exposure to hospital or clinical settingsLiving in a long-term care centerImpaired immunityAdvanced ageSex: maleUsing antibioticsHaving a wound
MRSA may not cause any symptoms in people who are colonized, but not infected, with the bacteria. In those that have symptoms, MRSA may cause: A rash that may have dischargeAn area of the skin that is swollen and redBlisters on the skin
Infected Hair Follicle—Folliculitis
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Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your bodily fluids and tissues may be tested. This can be done with: Blood testsUrine tests
Talk with your doctor about the best
for you. Treatment options include the following:
Antibiotics are given to kill the bacteria. Only a few antibiotics are available that can treat MRSA.
Your doctor may
open the abscess
and allow the fluid to drain. Do not attempt to do this on your own.
Do the following to treat the infection and to keep it from spreading:
- Wash your skin with an antibacterial cleanser.
- Cover your skin with a sterile dressing.
Decolonization is a process to help rid your body of the bacteria so you do not reinfect yourself. This process may involve using nasal ointments, washing with special soap, and taking medications, including antibiotics. Decolonization is only recommended in certain cases.
To help reduce your chance of getting MRSA:
wash your hands
with soap and water.
Keep cuts and wounds clean and covered until healed.Avoid contact with other people’s wounds and materials contaminated by wounds.If you are hospitalized, visitors and healthcare workers may be required to wear special clothing and gloves. This will help prevent spreading the infection to others.Clean surfaces to eliminate bacteria.If advised by your doctor, use nasal ointments, wash with special soap, and take medications to prevent the bacteria from infecting you again.
Barton M, Hawkes M, et al. Guidelines for the prevention and management of community-associated methicillin-resistant
: A perspective for Canadian health care practitioners.
Can J Infect Dis Med Microbiol.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 7, 2014. Accessed August 18, 2014.
MRSA decolonization. Aurora BayCare Medical Center website. Available at:
. Accessed August 18, 2014.
Seasonal flu and staph infection. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/flustaph.htm. Updated February 8, 2011. Accessed August 18, 2014.
MRSA. Nemours Foundation Kids Health website. Available at:
http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/bacterial_viral/mrsa.html. Updated June 2014. Accessed August 18, 2014.
Last reviewed August 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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