What is it?

  • MRSA is a strain of staph that does not respond to the usual antibiotics.
  • It is most frequently acquired in the hospital, but is found in increasing numbers of non-hospitalized people.
  • Community-acquired cases of MRSA are found in athletes, injection drug users and people who live in crowded surroundings or share contaminated items such as razors.
  • MRSA is an increased risk for athletes involved in sports that include personal contact such as wrestling or football.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Frequently the infection begins as a reddened area on the skin resembling a pimple or bug bite.
  • This will progress into an abscess or boil with reddened skin surrounding the boil.
  • There is usually swelling around the boil.
  • This area is frequently tender and uncomfortable, but not always.
  • You may have a fever with this.


  • This infection needs to be seen in the Health Center or by your primary provider.
  • The primary treatment for this infection is to drain the abscess. This may not be possible initially.
  • To facilitate the ability to drain the abscess, you need to apply warm compresses, such as a warm wash cloth, to the area at least 4 times per day.
  • Antibiotics are needed to treat the infection. Although this organism is resistant to many of the commonly used antibiotics, there are antibiotics that are appropriate to use. There are oral antibiotics that you will take home with you to use, but you may need an injected antibiotic initially in the Health Center.
  • Sometimes IV antibiotics are required. For these you will need to go to the Emergency Department.
  • If you are not improving after 2 – 3 days of antibiotic therapy, return to the Health Center or your primary provider for follow-up.


  • MRSA is spread through person-to-person contact. Therefore, good hygiene is the key to preventing this infection. As with any health issue, good hand washing is imperative.
  • Do not share any personal items
  • If you have the infection, keep it covered. Dispose of dirty dressings completely in the garbage. Wash your hands before and after performing wound care.
  • Discard any contaminated items such as razors.
  • Do not reuse any contaminated towels.
  • Wash any exposed clothing.
  • Cleanse athletic equipment between each use using a 1:100 bleach solution.
  • If you are an athlete, bathe with soap as soon as possible after participation.
  • Use antibiotics appropriately – do not use them unnecessarily, do not share them with other people, and complete the full course as it is prescribed.

Risk Factors

  • Participation in contact sports, skin to skin contact with other people, especially if you have any open areas such as cuts or brush burns.
  • Not cleaning sports equipment after every use.
  • Sharing personal items such as towels, razors or sports equipment.
  • A lowered immune system from a chronic condition associated with decreased immunity such as diabetes, or stress, recent illness, etc.
  • Living in crowded conditions.