MRSA & staph infections: What you need to know

Published: September 21st, 2016

Category: Student Health Care Center Blog

The following information is courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For additional information about MRSA/staph, please visit the CDC’s MRSA web page at www.cdc.gov/mrsa/index.html.

What is MRSA/staph?

Staph is a type of bacteria. It may cause skin infections that look like pimples or boils. Skin infections caused by staph may be red, swollen, painful or have pus or other drainage. Some staph, known as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), are resistant to certain antibiotics, making it harder to treat. The information provided here applies to both staph and MRSA infections.

Who gets staph infections?

Anyone can get a staph infection. You are more likely to get a staph infection if you have:

  • Skin-to-skin contact with someone who has a staph infection
  • Contact with items and surfaces that have staph on them
  • Openings in your skin such as cuts or scrapes
  • Crowded living conditions
  • Poor hygiene

How serious are staph infections?

Most staph skin infections are minor and may be easily treated. Staph may also cause more serious infections, such as infections of the bloodstream, surgical sites or pneumonia. Sometimes a staph infection that starts as skin infection may worsen. It is important to contact your doctor if your infection does not get better.

How are staph infections treated?

Treatment for a staph skin infection may include taking an antibiotic or having a doctor drain the infection. If you are given an antibiotic, be sure to take all the doses, even if the infection is getting better, unless your doctor instructs you to do otherwise. Do not share antibiotics with others or save them to use later.

How do I keep staph infections from spreading?

You can keep staph infections from spreading by:

  • Washing your hands often, or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Keeping your cuts and scrapes clean and covered with bandages
  • Not touching others’ cuts or bandages
  • Not sharing personal items like towels and razors