Chronic MRSA – Why do I keep getting reinfected?

  • Sometimes the drugs clear your skin infection but another one appears within weeks. The bacteria may have lingered on quietly in the nose, genital area or armpits and infected a new cut or skin weakness.
  • It is also highly possible that people become reinfected in the community – this could be via other carriers who have no sign of infection. These sources include pets, children in day care, friends and sexual partners. People with chronic MRSA infections may want to look carefully at possible reinfection sources.
  • It is also possible that drug treatment may kill one strain of MRSA but not another strain that may be lurking on your skin.
  • People with poor health who have to visit health care facilities regularly are also prone to reinfection.
  • There is also a small possibility that those with previous bloodstream infections may have dormant infection potential. Some studies suggest that certain drugs – Linezolid – kill MRSA outright but that MRSA will some times ‘hibernate’ when faced with Vancomycin.
  • People with previous infections and current good health are thought to be less vulnerable to further extreme infections.

More MRSA infection questions below.
Use the comments box at the foot of this post for your questions

MRSA Symptoms – what are they?
What is MRSA?
Is MRSA infection different from MERSA?
MRSA Test – How is MRSA detected
Is MRSA Infection Contagious?
Can you catch MRSA from skin contact?
How does MRSA spread in the family?
Is MRSA airborne?

More MRSA infection questions below. Use the comments box below for your questions.

How is MRSA Treated
Will MRSA kill me?
A simple MRSA treatment guide

How do you catch MRSA
Is MRSA just a hospital infection?
Is there an MRSA incubation period?
Exposure to MRSA – Should I be worried?
What about sex and MRSA?
MRSA Skin – Catching MRSA from skin contact?
Chronic MRSA – I keep getting MRSA?
How do you catch MRSA?

25 thoughts on “Chronic MRSA – Why do I keep getting reinfected?

  1. Lisa

    I’ve tried several courses of bactrim but mrsa boils keep coming back. The only thing that works is doing a bleach bath every day. If I miss even 1 day I get a boil again. I was wondering if there are any other options for me? Is it possible to somehow decolonize myself?

    • Dave Roberts

      Sounds like you need another drug as this one may be evading bactrim. You may also want to ask about nasal decolonisation.

      There may also be a silent carrier in your household. They could be re infecting you. Family pets are sometimes a culprit


    • Danielle

      When I was first diagnosed my doctor tried Bactrim (which did nothing), I went to the ER and they put me on Clindamycin, which helps (after 14 days of being on it). As far as bleach baths go, I can’t imagine that’s very good for your skin. I use Hibiclens (recommend purchasing at walmart, half gallon is under 20 bucks) every morning when I shower and I have been soaking in a bath of Epsom salts at night (to help with the joint pain) also, when a boil starts creeping up I bought those giant lipton tea bags.. I sit in the tub with one of those pressed against the site. OH and when I’m in the tub I use Dial White soap to clean myself up at the end of the day.. I also keep some sort of bleach cleaner in the shower for everyone to spray it down with when they’re done. I’ve been living with this for over 2 years now and have had surgeries to remove spots etc. It sucks, but once you get a routine down it becomes second nature. Around the house I use Antimicrobial Febreeze to spray down the couches/carpets/curtains/jackets etc (use it in the car as well), I have lysol wipes that I wipe all the door knobs down with, there are towels designated for my use. My husband has been my caregiver and still is clear. I wish you all the best :)

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  4. Chris

    Thank you Dave for responding. Would the Dr. know how to determine of her Mersa is USA 300? So far no more boils, but interestingly enough, work seems to be now “watching” her every move, and she is concerned that they may be trying to force her out.

    • Dave Roberts

      There will need to be a test to clarify whether she has USA300, unless it has already been done.

      It will be helpful to you should the situation worsen re the workplace


  5. Caitlyn

    I had mrsa on my knee a few weeks ago, went to the doctor they cultured it and said bactrum would take care of it. finished the bactrum went back and they said i was in the clear. they gave me an aniceptic wash when i was diagnosed, along with a hevy duty rx neosporn. i havent been using them ever since they said it was gone. but now i have three painfull bumps on my armpit. it feels like it could be the strart of more mrsa. i am a known hypocondriac but the doctor did say something about mrsa can be chronic. i ws just wondering what the chanses of it being mrsa agian might be… also if someone does have chronic mrsa what is the cure or treatment.

    • admin

      A further infection can be down to several causes, including reinfection by yourself. But it can be a third party, a family pet or any number of causes. You will need to be retested to see if it is the same strain of MRSA before thinking about how it might be treated or stopped


  6. Chris

    My 40 yr old daughter has Systemic Lupus quite severly. Her kidneys are seriously affected as well as the ususal stomach,, joint,sereve tiredess and now the worst she has been deemed a MERSA carrier. She works in a large call center with hundreds of people. Some clean, some pretty nasty. She has has three large boils that required lancing and antibiotics. Another one fformed and a co[worker complained she didn;t want Sarah at work because she MIGHT get it. She was sent home no pay, and is out for two dAYS NONPAY. hE dR, IS FURIOUS AND SAID THEY ARE DISCRIMINATIONG AGANIST HER. pLEASE KNOW SHE BATHES WITH SPECIAL SOAP AND IS METICILOUS ABOUT HER DRESS AND HYGEINE. wOULD A LAWER BE OUR NEXT STEP?

    • Dave Roberts

      Yes re lawyer. Consider suggesting that she may have caught it at the call center as between 2% – 10% of people there are likely carriers. Ask what the call center is doing to protect staff. tell them that if the strain of MRSA is USA 300, not a hospital type, then your case is even stronger.

      It would be hard to push the above too far but it may be enough to get the center thinking more carefully. As your doctor is suggesting there is no grounds for workplace discrimination anyway.


  7. Scott

    Doctor, is there a difference between childhood MRSA and adulthood MRSA? My reason for questioning is because my 6 year old was diagnosed with MRSA after a swimming camp in 2010. and has gotten a boil three times since then and all came back positive with MRSA. They are only on the skin and nothing in his blood or anything like that. I am not sure if the DOctor has done the nose swab because my wife normally takes my son to the Doctor. They normally give him the Hibiclens and we keep some in the house as well, and he is given the antibiotics to fight the infection for the ten days. My primary question is if there is a differecen between adult and child MRSA, will my son gro out of it later in life, similar say like chronic ear infections or childhood asthma. Will he grow out of getting the infected boils? How can this be cured so he does not have any continuation of MRSA?
    ANy help or advise would be great because I am severely worried and go craszy every time my son gets one of these boils. Another thing is that he has siblings who do not get them to include myself and his mother. We do not get them either.

  8. Mrs. Rhodes

    I have chronic recurring MRSA and I was wondering…what do you do if you have pets in these situations? Is there some treatment for the animals or a test maybe to see if they are the problem?
    I have done everything I am supposed to do to eliminate the MRSA to no avail. I am at my wits end.

    • admin

      It is possible to have the animals tested and they are often a silent source of reinfection. What is less clear is how they are to be decolonized if indeed they are the source


  9. Lucy Glenn

    I work in a home health setting and have a patient’s family member with weeping wounds who was sent home (from the hospital) unable to care for his wounds and I would assume placed the family at risk as he lives with his 93 yo aunt. We successfully had him readmitted after 3 days home. My question is how long will MRSA last on surfaces. I gave them disinfectants to clean with however the chair he sits in is open weave fabric; they have a carpet and a cat that sits in his lap most of the day. His wounds are on his feet, legs and arm.

    • admin

      They can last for some while. The cat could be an issue. As it is many suggest that because surface elimination is not always easy that the ‘last mile’ – in this case, hand hygiene is key to stopping nasal infection of family members. It’s also worth cleaning high touch areas such as door handles, toilet handles and light switches


  10. Ben

    I have a question about carrying MRSA. I had an infection almost two years ago (Feb 2009); the best etiological hypothesis is that it was on my skin and when I got a new tattoo on my back it used that as an opportunity to get in my system. It manifested as 3 abscesses on my back (near the tattoo) and one less prominent one on my right underarm. I had a low-grade fever when I finally went to the doctor but it went away shortly after they opened and drained the abscesses. The wounds were cleaned and packed and I was put on a 14-day course of Bactrim. I had no recurrence at that time or since then and didn’t really miss a beat. I was in university at the time and didn’t need any hospitalization or to take off any time.

    So, fast forward about two years and I am trying to get into an Air Force Reserve unit (I am prior service active duty). They won’t let me up to MEPs until the SG approves my records because they say I am now a carrier (mind you I don’t have to go to basic training where there are close quarters). I have given them the VA hospital records from my treatments.

    But my question is that since I had MRSA two years ago with no recurrence does that mean that I am a (internal) carrier? I understand that people with multiple cases probably have it hiding out in their body, but what is your opinion on how a doctor would view my case? Like I said, no recurrence and I am quite physically active.

    Thank you

    • admin

      It is not so likely from my reading that you will be an internal carrier and this is less relevant on a day to day basis than being colonised on external sites such as the nose, armpits and groin. Colonization is a slippery thing at the best of times as the pool of people grows who carry community MRSA. But some only have it transiently. I’m sure you get the picture. You can have a nasal swab and other tests to clarify whether you are an MRSA in the external sites. You can have a nasal cream treatment and special baths if you turn up positive that can bring you back to an MRSA negative status. You might like to clarify with your medical provider what they can do in this respect.

      Dave Roberts
      MRSA Infection

  11. melissa

    I am 38 yrs old and have tested positive for MRSA six times in the last 12 months. I have been getting what my dr. has called boils that became infected. I have never been prone to this prior to the first occurence. I am given antibiotic medication I take for 10 days each time but it seems to come back. My 1st occurence and this, my 6th, I went to the dr. each day for four days and have been given 2 shots each day. I have scoured my home with bleach and washed everything each time. My dr. says to keep doing what I’m doing. I’m at my wits end. Is there anything else I can do?

    • admin

      Have they sought to decolonise your nose as this is often a source of reinfection? There is also a possibility that a family member may be a ‘silent carrier’. Domestic pets can also be silent carriers. Do you have a job that might put you around potential carriers – working in daycare for instance? Have they suggested Hibiclens for your own personal washing. MRSA can hide out in places other than the nose.

      Hope some of this is helpful


  12. dorinda

    my daughter has been getting mrsa for about 8 years off and on. mostly in the late summer or spring. we have taken her to the dr and tryed pills and creams. she had one about 10 days ago and after finishing her pills and now another has popped up on her arm. the last one was on her cheek. any help?

    • admin

      Is there a social activity that she undertakes in that seasonal period that might be putting her in the company of MRSA carriers? Is there a factor that might be impacting her skin in that period that might make her more vulnerable to skin infections?

      MRSA Questions
      Dave Roberts

  13. bassam hamze

    dear sir
    my son has a chronic MRSA infection since more than 1 year and we treated him with doxocyllin first and then with clindomycin continuosly for 6 mounths 150mg daily but as soon he stops the medication he get the infection again so plz what to do
    regardes dr bassam hamze

    • admin

      There may be a reinfection source or he may have a skin weakness perhaps. Reinfection sources may include a family member who is a ‘silent carrier’ – carrying the bacteria but having no infection. Family pets can also be silent carriers. He may be carrying it in his nose and reinfecting himself. You will need to ask your doctor to check his nasal carriage and perhaps family members

      Dave Roberts
      MRSA Questions

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