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MRSA Test – when should you ask for one?

An MRSA test will be relevant to you in 3 different circumstances. When a family member has it, if you have a skin condition that might be MRSA and when you about to have a medical procedure. MRSA is a tiny bacteria you could carry it on your skin or in your nose for a long time without it making you ill. Between 1-2% of people are MRSA carriers – although this may be more in some cities and risk groups. As many as 1 in 3 people have the equally destructive but easier to treat staph aureus (SA) on their skin and it is thought that 4 out of 5 people carry SA at some point in their lives.

MRSA Test – Home or Friends

If people suspect that they are MRSA carriers, because of MRSA infections among friends or family, they can ask for a simple MRSA test at their medical provider. These tests are often sought when some someone has chronic MRSA. Friends and family pets are tested to see if there is a ‘silent carrier’  who has the bacteria but has not developed an infection. A nasal swab can be taken and sent for testing. In the medium term a 15 minute MRSA test should become available.

Special soaps such as Hibiclens can help remove the bacteria from the skin and regular washing/showering will also help frustrate the possible long term colonisation of your body. Nasal creams are also available but overuse will breed resistance and you could become reinfected again within days, within the community.

Other MRSA Symptoms Pages

MRSA Test – Skin Infection

MRSA skin infections often start as small red bumps. You may think that they are pimples, small boils or insect bites. They will often be swollen, may leak yellow pus and may feel warm in the area around the inflamation. Other bacteria can also be the cause of these skin issues – only a MRSA test will suggest the real cause.

If the infection develops into an abscess,(pockets of pus under the skin), or a carbuncle, (large abscess which may have one or more opening) then incision and drainage might be needed and silver bandages or other wound dressings might be advised. The medical provider will often send a MRSA test for analysis and will usually suggest an antibiotic that is the right one for the strain you have.

MRSA is best thought of as a tribe of highly related but subtly different infections. The MRSA test will clarify which strain you have and the doctor can ensure you get drugs that are thought to work against that strain

An antibiotic may not be useful or needed in many cases but until the MRSA test is back they tend to play it safe. Tests that return results  in hours rather than days are important to help staff make the right choices.  In a small number of cases these skin infections develop into serious and extensive abcesses and may invade the rest of the body.

Other conditions and operations

MRSA can be a complicating factor, among many, of almost any other medical condition including surgical site incisions, flu, pneumonia, heart conditions and arthiritis. It can attack vulnerable tissue and create large pus filled internal abscesses.

More and more hospitals screen patients on arrival and embark on skin cleaning with chlorahexdrine, nasal creams and pre-emptive antibiotic use if the patient is high risk or returns a positive MRSA test from nasal swabs or blood cultures

MRSA Test Headlines
The technology of MRSA testing is improved and discussed a great deal in medical and news literature – see below for the latest headlines



  1. Mike C Mike C

    I was diagnosed with MRSA on my skin in the groin area the doctor thought it was Folliculitis. Thank God he took a sample of the pustular and it came back that is was MRSA. The Doctor put me on Clindamycin 150mg 4 time a day until gone, was wondering if that is all i need to do or if I should get retested after I take the rest of the medicine. I will buy that Hibicleans and use it. How long should I use The Hibicleans?? And Is taking a Bleach Bath the same as the Hibicleans??

    • Martha Martha

      Be careful with that MRSA infection in your groin. From your statements, it sounds as though you are not very bright. You need to wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap every time you touch your groin area. You should use the Hibiclens for at least two weeks. Wash the area thoroughly with warm water and Hibiclens and dry with paper towels. If you don’t use paper towels, you will be transferring the MRSA bacteria to other areas of your skin and your laundry. Laundry detergent does NOT kill MRSA bacteria, only bleach does. Use the Hibiclens twice a day and do not have sex. You will transmit it to the victim you have sex with.

  2. Ok I have all the signs of mras but they said I Dnt have it I had a bacteria infection yet my boss won’t let me come back to wOrk yet an not after being out fOr3 weeks she wnts a mras test but my doctor said I dont need one an wrote a ssigned document a gave it to her saying I’m not contagious not a risk an I’m better an released to work. What shld I do because I’m a single mom. An she still wnts more proof ?

    • admin admin

      Check whether you have lawyers in your city who do Pro Bono work – free legal aid. Then ask them if there is law that can be used in this situation. Ask your boss to respond to whatever advice they give. If he doesn’t take legal action


  3. Jean Jean

    I have a friend living with us who is a carrier of MRAS. What precautions should I take? Should I keep her away from my infant and todlers? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  4. Tammy Tammy

    I am a 45 y/o woman who already has a compromised immune system (I am a type 1 diabetic for 31 yrs and I also have SLE for 3 yrs). About a year and a half ago, I had surgery on my foot which ended up developing a MRSA infection. It cleared in about a month and all was fine. Last month, I had my ear pierced and it ended up getting infected. When I went to the dr., they cultured it and it came back MRSA as well. Does this mean that I have MRSA in my system and ANY cut could become a MRSA infection OR does it just mean because my immune system is compromised, everything will turn into MRSA because I can’t fight things well?

    • admin admin

      It coud mean that you have been an MRSA carrier all this time and this is the first wound it got into. It could mean that you had picked up MRSA on your skin since the foot op and this is a new infection – genetic analysis would show whether this is the old or a new strain. It could mean that MRSA has been dormant in yiur system – where you treated with Vancomycin last time? It could also mean that there was poor infection control at the esr piercing place and that you caught this infection there.

      Hope this gives some food for thought

      Dave Roberts
      MRSA Infection

      • Martha Martha

        Dave – you’re yet another intellectual delight. Why do you keep writing “an MRSA”? An is only used before a noun that begins with a vowel. The letter M is NOT a vowel. Vanna White is not your mommy.

        • Infection Watch Infection Watch

          Thank you. Your insights might be more helpful if you were a tad less patronising

  5. L Miller L Miller

    My mom has been told she has MRSA from a wound on her leg, now the residential care facility where she is is telling us to get tested. We are in the Fresno California area and not having much luck in finding someone who does the “nose swab”? Not even my husbands GP… what is suggested now? Thanks!

  6. Carolyn Carolyn

    I work in a facility where a patient has MRAS. I dress the patient and transfer the patient from bed to wheel chair. Is it safe to go around my mom who has cancer and is getting chemo therapy?

    • admin admin

      It is never completly safe in the circumstances you are in. 2 thoughts however. Frequent hand washing makes you less likely to be a carrier in your circumstances. 1 in 3 of those in contact with your mum will be carriers of the easier to treat but equally dangerous Staph aureus (SA) so it is not possible to completly shield her from disease. The other issue is that the primary risk for your mum from you relates to wound areas or broken skin which are less of an issue with chemotherapy

      Hope that helps

      Dave Roberts
      MRSA Infection

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