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Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is a bacteria resistant to standard antibiotics. MRSA began in hospitals, but is now regularly found in community settings.


Signs of a staph or MRSA skin infection include slow-healing wounds, infected pimples, boils or rashes that can be painful, red, swollen or warm. Sometimes, these can resemble spider bites.

Staph infections can also enter your bloodstream, causing more serious illness. Symptoms include high fever, hot, painful wounds, headache, tiredness and more.


MRSA is serious, but preventable. Here are some guidelines from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health:

  • Wash
    Regular handwashing is the best way to prevent MRSA. Wash frequently with soap and warm water or use hand sanitizer, especially after direct contact with another person’s skin.
  • Cover
    Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage until they've healed.
  • Don't touch
    Avoid contact with other people’s wounds or bandages.
  • Don't share
    Avoid sharing personal items such as towels, washcloths, toothbrushes, and razors.
  • Healthy skin
    Keep your skin healthy and avoid getting dry, cracked skin, especially during the winter. Healthy skin helps to keep the MRSA on the surface of your skin from causing an infection underneath your skin.
  • Call your provider
    Contact your healthcare provider if you have a skin infection that doesn't improve.

What to do

If you think you may have a staph infection, keep the area clean and dry, and see your healthcare provider.

Lab tests are the only way to determine whether an infection is MRSA or another form of staph. Your provider will use the results to determine the best treatment options. Good hygiene, including keeping infections clean, dry and covered, is important.

More on MRSA...

Learn more about staph and MRSA with information from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health: