Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a serious bacterial infection that is resistant to most antibiotic treatments. Healing is possible but severe infections may become chronic or recurrent.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) can become chronic or resurface in other areas of the body, like the joints, bones, and blood.

Recurrent infections heal but pop up again from time to time. This article explores whether MRSA infections can come back after treatment and how likely you are to develop chronic infections with MRSA.

Yes, a MRSA infection can return once you have it and it heals.

A 2010 study showed that MRSA infections in wounds can come back in roughly 10% to 20% of cases. Particularly after surgery, you can be at a higher risk of MRSA infections — especially in body parts like your bones and joints.

A 2019 case report suggested that even people who develop MRSA skin and soft tissue infections outside the hospital may experience repeated episodes, infections, or flare-ups for more than a year after the initial infection.

How likely MRSA infections are to heal and return after healing often depends on your type of initial infection, the extent of your MRSA infection, and the treatment you receive.

Research suggests that as many as 70% of people who develop a MRSA infection outside of healthcare settings will see the infection return over the course of a year.

Chronic infections after surgeries like joint replacements are also common complications. A 2019 study found MRSA can cause about half of these ongoing infections.

The time a MRSA infection takes to treat depends a lot on the medications used to manage the initial infection.

It can take multiple rounds of different antibiotics to clear some MRSA infections, so one round of treatment may not be enough to cure the infection.

If your body can’t completely clear infected tissue of MRSA bacteria during initial treatment, the bacteria can recolonize that area.

You may not notice signs of infection at first, as the number of bacteria is small. As bacteria multiply from what’s left of the original infection, recurrences or flare-ups are possible.

MRSA infections can be highly contagious, and people can pass it on to each other by touch.

If you share a bed with someone with a MRSA infection, skin-to-skin contact or contact with contaminated bedding might pass their infection on to you.

Finding the right antibiotic to treat your specific MRSA infection is the first step to clear the bacteria completely.

Even if your first round of antibiotics works for you, though, make sure you take some steps in your personal hygiene and around your house to prevent the infection from returning.

Contaminated personal items can spread a MRSA infection to others, but they can also cause reinfection in you after treatment.

Experts recommend the following strategies to prevent both initial and recurrent infection with MRSA:

  • Wash your hands and body often.
  • Avoid sharing personal items.
  • Clean shared equipment, like exercise equipment, before and after use.
  • Cover any open cuts, scrapes, or wounds.
  • Use antibiotics appropriately when needed.
  • Contact a healthcare professional right away if you suspect a serious infection or you develop a fever.

MRSA infections can be difficult to get rid of. Even after treatment, many of these infections can return if even a few bacteria remain or if you experience reinfection from contact with personal, shared, or household items.

Talk with your healthcare professional about getting the right treatment for you and what you can do at home to prevent reinfection.