MRSA (pronounced mersa) is a skin infection. It's  also called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. 

MRSA is caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus (also called Staph), which is a common cause of skin infections. 

Some Staph bacteria, including MRSA, are resistant to certain antibiotics. Resistant means that the infection does not get better even after medicine is given that would normally treat the infection. An antibiotic is medicine that kills infections caused by bacteria. About 1 in 50 people carry the bacteria that causes MRSA, but may not show signs of infection.

What are signs and symptoms of MRSA?

The infected area may look like a spider bite. A bump or irritation may appear on the skin that may be: 

  • Red
  • Swollen
  • Painful 
  • Warm to the touch
  • Full of pus or other drainage
  • Accompanied by a fever

What should you do if you think your baby may have MRSA?

The good news is that MRSA infection in children is rare.  But if you think your baby may have MRSA, contact her health provider so the infection can be treated quickly. Don’t try to treat the infection yourself by picking or popping the sore. Keep the area covered until your child sees her health provider. 

What can you do to reduce the spread of MRSA?

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. Or use a hand sanitizer that contains alcohol.
  • Keep cuts and scrapes clean.
  • Cover cuts and scrapes with clean, dry bandages until they heal.
  • Throw out dirty bandages. Wash your hands after changing bandages.
  • Do not touch other people's cuts, skin infections or bandages.
  • Do not share personal items, such as towels or razors that come into contact with skin. 

How is MRSA treated?

  • Most MRSA infections can be treated with antibiotics taken by mouth. If your child has been given an antibiotic, be sure she takes all the doses, unless her health care provider tells her to stop.
  • When treating a MRSA infection, the health care provider sometimes cuts open the infected area of the skin, cleans it and drains it.

Last reviewed: November, 2013