MRSA is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (also called a "staph infection").

This is a potentially dangerous type of staph bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics and may cause skin and other infections.

You can get MRSA through direct contact with an infected person or by sharing personal items, such as towels or razors that have touched infected skin.

Staph infections, including MRSA, occur most frequently among persons in hospitals and healthcare facilities who have weakened immune systems.

MRSA infections that occur in otherwise healthy people who have not been recently (within the past year) hospitalized or had a medical procedure (such as dialysis, surgery, catheters) are known as community-associated (CA)-MRSA infections. These infections are usually skin infections, such as abscesses, boils, and other pus-filled lesions.


Most staph skin infections, including CA-MRSA, appear as a bump or infected area on the skin that may be:

  • Red
  • Swollen
  • Painful
  • Warm to the touch
  • Full of pus or other drainage
  • Accompanied by a fever

If you or someone in your family or living situation experiences these signs and symptoms, cover the area with a bandage and contact a healthcare professional. It is especially important to see a healthcare professional if signs and symptoms of an MRSA skin infection are accompanied by a fever.

MRSA can develop into more serious infections. It is fairly uncommon, however, that a complication of a CA-MRSA skin infection develops.

Complications are more common within the healthcare setting, where more serious infections can affect tissues inside the body, not just the skin.

Some of the most common areas affected (and the types of infections caused) include:

  • Lungs (pneumonia)
  • Bloodstream (bacteremia or septicemia)
  • Soft tissue (cellulitis)
  • Bone (osteomyelitis)
  • Inner lining of the heart (endocarditis)

Treatment for MRSA skin infections may include having a healthcare professional drain the infection and, in some cases, prescribe an antibiotic.

Do not attempt to drain the infection yourself – doing so could worsen or spread it to others.

If you are given an antibiotic, be sure to take all of the doses (even if the infection is getting better), unless your healthcare professional tells you to stop taking it.

MRSA infections can be spread through skin-to-skin contact or less frequently by touching surfaces that have MRSA on them.

MRSA is typically spread by:

  • Having direct contact with another person’s infection
  • Sharing personal items, such as towels or razors, that have touched infected skin
  • Touching surfaces or items such as used bandages contaminated with MRSA
  • Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered
  • Practice good hygiene such as cleaning hands regularly
  • Avoid sharing personal items such as towels and razors

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.