Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

Font Size

Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) Topics

Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) - Overview

What is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)?

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a type of staphylococcus or "staph" bacterium that is resistant to many antibiotics. Staph bacteria, like other kinds of bacteria, normally live on your skin and in your nose, usually without causing problems. But if these bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, they can cause serious infections, especially in people who are ill or weak. MRSA is different from other types of staph because it cannot be treated with certain antibiotics such as methicillin.

MRSA infections are more difficult to treat than ordinary staph infections. This is because the strains of staph known as MRSA do not respond well to many common antibiotics used to kill bacteria. When methicillin and other antibiotics do not kill the bacteria causing an infection, it becomes harder to get rid of the infection.

MRSA bacteria are more likely to develop when antibiotics are used too often or are not used correctly. Given enough time, bacteria can change so that these antibiotics no longer work well.

How is MRSA spread?

MRSA, like all staph bacteria, can be spread from one person to another through casual contact or through contaminated objects. It is commonly spread from the hands of someone who has MRSA. This could be anyone in a health care setting or in the community. MRSA is usually not spread through the air like the common cold or flu virus, unless a person has MRSA pneumonia and is coughing.

MRSA that is acquired in a hospital or health care setting is called healthcare-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (HA-MRSA). In most cases, a person who is already sick or who has a weakened immune system becomes infected with HA-MRSA. These infections can occur in wounds or skin, burns, and IV or other sites where tubes enter the body, as well as in the eyes, bones, heart, or blood.

In the past, MRSA infected people who had chronic illnesses. But now MRSA has become more common in healthy people. These infections can occur among people who have scratches, cuts, or wounds and who have close contact with one another, such as members of sports teams. This type of MRSA is called community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA).

1 | 2 | 3
1 | 2 | 3

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Pictures and symptoms of the red, scaly rash.
woman with dyed dark hair
What it says about your health.
woman with cleaning products
Top causes of the itch that rashes.
atopic dermatitus
Identify and treat common skin problems.
itchy skin
shingles rash on skin
woman with skin tag
Woman washing face
woman washing her hair in sink
close up of womans bare neck
woman with face cream