Understanding MRSA -- Diagnosis & Treatment

Medically Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on May 14, 2021

How Do I Know If I Have MRSA?

How Is MRSA Diagnosed?

Often skin infections caused by MRSA are diagnosed clinically, without any tests. Since MSRA is now so prevalent, if staph is suspected, your doctor, as a course will; treat for MRSA. If tests are run, they will likely do a culture of an open sore for MRSA. Or if someone is sick enough, a blood culture may be taken to look for bacteria. A common infection of the skin caused by MRSA is cellulitis, which can be treated with antibiotics. 

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.

Show Sources

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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