Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) Topics

Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) - Overview

(continued)

How is an infection diagnosed?

If your doctor thinks that you are infected with MRSA, he or she will send a sample of your infected wound, blood, or urine to a lab. The lab will grow the bacteria and then test to see which kinds of antibiotics kill the bacteria. This test may take several days.

You may also be tested if your doctor suspects that you are a MRSA carrier. A MRSA carrier is a person who has the bacteria living on the skin and in the nose but who is not sick. The test is done by taking a swab from the inside of the nose.

How is an infection treated?

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

If you have a MRSA infection and need to be in a hospital, you may be isolated in a private room to reduce the chances of spreading the bacteria to others. When your doctors and nurses are caring for you, they may use extra precautions such as wearing gloves and gowns. If you have a MRSA pneumonia, they may also wear masks.

Most cases of community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) begin as mild skin infections such as pimples or boils. Your doctor may be able to treat these infections without antibiotics by using a minor surgical procedure that opens and drains the sores.

If your doctor prescribes antibiotic medicine, be sure to take all the medicine even if you begin to feel better right away. If you do not take all the medicine, you may not kill all the bacteria. No matter what your treatment, be sure to call your doctor if your infection does not get better as expected.

How can I prevent getting or spreading MRSA?

As more antibiotic-resistant bacteria develop, hospitals are taking extra care to practice infection control, which includes frequent hand-washing and isolation of patients who are infected with MRSA.

You can also take steps to protect yourself from MRSA.

  • Practice good hygiene.
    • Keep your hands clean by washing them frequently and thoroughly with soap and clean, running water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Hand-washing is the best way to avoid spreading germs.
    • Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage, and avoid contact with other people's wounds or bandages.
    • Do not share personal items such as towels or razors.
  • Be smart about using antibiotics. Know that antibiotics can help treat bacterial infections but they cannot cure viral infections. Always ask your doctor if antibiotics are the best treatment. And avoid pressuring your doctor into prescribing antibiotics when they won't help you get better.
  • Always take all your antibiotic medicine as prescribed by your doctor. Using only part of the medicine may cause antibiotic-resistant bacteria to develop.
  • Do not save any antibiotics, and do not use antibiotics that were prescribed for someone else.
  • If you are in the hospital, remind doctors and nurses to wash their hands before they touch you.
1 | 2 | 3

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 10, 2013
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

chafing
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
Article
shingles rash on skin
Article
 
woman with skin tag
Quiz
Woman washing face
Video
 

Itching for Relief?

Get Help With the

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

woman washing her hair in sink
Video
close up of womans bare neck
Tools
 
Feet
Slideshow
woman with face cream
Quiz