Many people carry MRSA on their skin, and most will never get sick from it. Skin infections occur when the bacteria get in through small scrapes or cuts, sometimes too small to notice. The infected area usually begins with a red bump that resembles a pimple or insect bite. If untreated, the lesion may become hard and painful or may drain pus (often called a “boil” or a skin abscess).
MRSA is most often spread through direct physical contact with an infected person. Draining lesions are highly infectious and represent an important source of spread. MRSA can also be spread by touching objects that have been soiled with drainage from an infected wound such as bandages, towels, or athletic equipment, although this is less common than direct person-to-person spread.
Outbreaks of MRSA have occurred in households, on sports teams, in prisons, in daycare centers, and in other settings where people have close contact or share equipment and personal items.