Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria is often found in the skin folds. Less commonly, this includes the buttocks.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a specific, potent type of bacteria in the S. aureus bacterium family, explains Barry Peskin, MD, OB-GYN, medical adviser at Happy V.

MRSA of the buttocks, or perianal MRSA, is a catch-all term for external infections in and around your:

  • butt cheeks
  • fold where your butt cheeks and thighs meet
  • anal opening
  • perineum

“Though, in a clinical setting, it would be more common for clinicians to refer to the infection simply as a skin infection or MRSA infection,” said Peskin.

When MRSA has infected your anal canal, it’s known as anal or rectal MRSA.

MRSA infection in and around your buttocks is uncommon compared with MRSA infections affecting your other body parts.

MRSA typically causes red, swollen bumps and fluid-filled abscesses that may resemble pimples or boils, said Peskin.

Often, these pimple-like bumps are warm to the touch, he said. You may also develop a fever.

“Unlike some other skin conditions, MRSA infections can spread rapidly and become severe in a short amount of time,” he said.

MRSA is usually transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. Personal hygiene objects can also spread the bacteria from one location to another.

“Most often, people come into contact with the bacteria by touching objects where the bacteria is,” explains Peskin.

Common examples include shared or used:

  • razors
  • towels
  • undergarments

Certain factors can increase your risk of infection, such as:

There’s an increased risk of contraction when in spaces that are crowded with sick people, such as hospitals, barracks, and shelters, said Monte Swarup, MD, OB-GYN, founder of the health information site HPV Hub.

A healthcare professional will swab the affected area and send the sample off to a lab to be tested for the presence of MRSA, said Peskin.

If you don’t have any visible wounds, a healthcare professional will likely recommend a blood or urine test.

They may also perform additional tests to check for conditions that can cause similar symptoms, such as eczema, herpes simplex, and impetigo.

“The specific antibiotic treatment might include oral antibiotics, topical treatments, or in severe cases, intravenous antibiotics,” said Peskin.

The duration of treatment will vary based on the severity of your infection and if it’s spread elsewhere in your body, he said.

After you receive a diagnosis, abscesses, boils, and cysts can also be drained or removed. A healthcare professional may also be able to prescribe medication to help relieve your pain and soothe irritation.

They may also advise you to return for a “test of cure” after completing treatment.

“MRSA is treatable,” said Peskin. “However, it’s essential to promptly seek treatment for MRSA infections — and infections that could be MRSA — to avoid complications.”

Get immediate medical attention if you develop:

If left untreated, the infection can spread from your buttocks to the surrounding areas, such as your thighs, groin, and stomach.

In some cases, the infection can even spread into your anus, urinary tract, or vaginal canal. At this point, extreme complications such as kidney infection, pelvic inflammatory disease, and even sepsis become possible, he said.

Gabrielle Kassel (she/her) is a queer sex educator and wellness journalist who is committed to helping people feel the best they can in their bodies. In addition to Healthline, her work has appeared in publications such as Shape, Cosmopolitan, Well+Good, Health, Self, Women’s Health, Greatist, and more! In her free time, Gabrielle can be found coaching CrossFit, reviewing pleasure products, hiking with her border collie, or recording episodes of the podcast she co-hosts called Bad In Bed. Follow her on Instagram @Gabriellekassel.