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What is MRSA?

MRSA is the same Staphylococcus aureus bacterium that usually lives on the skin and nose but can also cause boils and abscesses. However, many antibiotics no longer kill MRSA. If a person has an MRSA infection, alternative antibiotics must be used.

Many people are carriers of MRSA, never have any symptoms, and never develop an infection. Others may have an infection, usually involving the skin. These infections can be treated with antibiotics, local skincare or a combination. Local skin care may include draining abscesses or boils (this should be done only by a health care provider). Antibiotics may be given orally or on an outpatient basis, or sometimes intravenously.

It is important that if you are given an antibiotic, you take all of the doses, even if the infection is getting better, unless your doctor tells you to stop taking it. 


Community-associated MRSA commonly causes skin infections, such as boils, abscesses, or cellulitis. Often, people think a spider or insect has bitten them. Because MRSA infections can become severe in a short amount of time, it is essential to see your doctor right away if you notice a boil or other skin problems.


Good personal hygiene will help reduce the spread of MRSA to others. 

Practice careful hand hygiene
You and your close contacts should clean your hands frequently with soap and water or waterless antiseptic hand rub. This is particularly important after touching any skin lesion, handling dressings or doing wound care.

Cover your wound
If it is open or draining, follow doctors’ and nurses’ instructions on wound care.

Do not share personal items
This includes towels, washcloths, razors, soap, creams, lotions, cosmetics, toothbrushes, nail files, combs and brushes. Soiled laundry may be washed and dried in the regular cycle of your washer and dryer to kill any bacteria.

Keep your environment clean
This includes your home and other shared common areas. Sports equipment has been identified as a source of the spread of MRSA among athletes in the community. Standard household detergents are acceptable cleaning agents.

Bathe regularly with soap and water

Follow your health care provider's instructions
Tell anyone who treats you that you have MRSA. This will allow them to use precautions to prevent spreading the bacteria to others.


Depending on how serious your infection is, the doctor may drain your wound, prescribe antibiotic medicine, give you an intravenous (IV) antibiotic, or hospitalize you.