Symptoms of MRSA infection 

The symptoms of an MRSA infection will depend on what part of the body is infected. Many people carry the MRSA bacteria inside their nose but will never have any symptoms.

Skin and soft tissue MRSA infections

Boils and abscesses

An MRSA skin infection usually first develops as a painful bump or a mark in the skin that looks like an insect bite. The bacteria often enter the skin through a cut, graze or a hair follicle. This develops into a painful, pus-filled swelling (boil).

Some people have additional symptoms, such as a high temperature and a general feeling of being unwell. 

In some cases, MRSA can cause a larger, pus-filled lump to develop underneath the skin. This is known as an abscess.


MRSA contracted outside hospitals or care homes (called community-associated MRSA or CA-MRSA) is much rarer but often causes more extensive skin infections, including a type of infection called cellulitis.

Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the deeper layers of skin and the layer of fat and soft tissues underneath the skin. The main symptom is the skin suddenly turning red, painful, hot and swollen.

Invasive MRSA infections

If the MRSA bacteria penetrate deeper inside your body or into your blood, they can cause serious infections.

Signs that you may have an invasive infection include:

  • a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • chills
  • a general sense of feeling unwell 
  • dizziness
  • confusion
  • muscular aches and pains
  • pain, swelling and tenderness in the affected body part 

Invasive MRSA infections can lead to the following conditions:

Page last reviewed: 13/06/2013

Next review due: 13/06/2015