Understanding MRSA -- Diagnosis & Treatment

Medically Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on May 14, 2019

How Do I Know If I Have MRSA?

How Is MRSA Diagnosed?

Your health care provider will examine the area and be able to run lab tests to see if you have MRSA. A common infection of the skin caused by MRSA is cellulitis, which can be treated with antibiotics. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor also might test blood, urine, or sputum (mucus coughed up).

What Are the Treatments for MRSA?

MRSA is treatable. By definition, MRSA is resistant to some antibiotics. But other kinds of antibiotics still work. If you have a severe infection, or MRSA in the bloodstream, you will need intravenous antibiotics. Unfortunately, there is emerging antibiotic resistance being seen with some of these medications.

Antibiotics, however, aren't always necessary. If you have a small skin boil caused by MRSA, your doctor may just make an incision and drain it.

If you are prescribed antibiotics, follow your health care provider's instructions precisely. Never stop taking your medicine, even if you're feeling better. If you don't take all of your medicine, some of the staph bacteria may survive, requiring re-treatment. Inadequate treatment also increases the development of antibiotic resistance in the surviving staph population. If you still have staph you can infect someone else.

WebMD Medical Reference


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The American Academy of Family Physicians.
Capriotti, T. Dermatology Nursing, Jan. 26, 2004.
Johnson, L. Infections in Medicine, 2005.
WebMD Feature: "Drug-Resistant Staph Spreads Across U.S."

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