Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) | Treatment

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How is MRSA treated?

For mild cases of MRSA, your doctor may drain the skin boil or abscess, then cover the wound with a clean dressing. The dressing will need to be changed regularly. Your doctor may prescribe an ointment that includes mupirocin to treat your MRSA. Often, this is all that is needed to treat the infection. Schedule a follow-up visit to make sure the site is healing well. Call your doctor if you don’t see any improvement after a few days.

For more serious cases, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics that work effectively against MRSA. They include:

  • Clindamycin
  • Doxycycline
  • Linezolid
  • Minocycline
  • Tetracycline
  • Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole
  • Vancomycin

However, strains of staph that are vancomycin resistant (called VRSA) have begun to appear.

Be sure to take all the doses of the antibiotic even if you’re feeling better, unless your doctor tells you otherwise. Contact your doctor if you do not improve after a few days or if the infection gets worse.

You may need to be hospitalized if you have a severe case of MRSA, if you have other health problems, or if your infection is life-threatening or may cause the loss of a limb. When you’re in the hospital, you will be monitored closely and receive powerful antibiotics called “broad-spectrum” antibiotics because they are designed to fight a wide range of infections.

What precautions should I take if I have a MRSA skin infection?

Follow your doctor’s instructions for caring for your infection.

  • Keep the area covered until it’s healed, changing the dressing as advised.
  • Wear disposable gloves to prevent spreading the infection.
  • Throw away bandages and tape with the regular trash. (If heavily soiled, first place inside a separate bag.)
  • Wash your hands often, using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Don’t share any personal items, such as bed or bath linens, clothing, razors, makeup, or sports or office equipment.

What should I do if I think my belongings have been exposed to MRSA?

If your clothing, sheets or towels are contaminated with the MRSA bacteria, wash them in hot water (at least 160°F) and laundry detergent. Use a hot dryer rather than air drying. Clean surfaces with household cleaners.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 03/14
Created: 07/09

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