About staph infection

What is staph infection?

Billions of people worldwide carry the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, but most are unaffected by it.

There are more than 30 different types of bacteria that are classified as Staphylococcus; the most common is Staphylococcus aureus.

You don't have to be sick to be a carrier of the staph bacteria. This germ lives on the skin and in the nose of many healthy people, and most will never be affected by it.

But for some, especially those with compromised immune systems, the bacteria can cause an infection that ranges from a mild skin rash to potentially life-threatening blood poisoning.

There are many different forms of staph infections. The most common are:

Skin Infections: These staph-related conditions include boils, cellulitis, and impetigo.

Boils are hair follicles or oil glands that have become infected and are often filled with pus. The boil may be raised, swollen, red, and painful to the touch. Boils most often occur in areas with a lot of friction, including under the arms, in the groin, and on the buttocks.

Cellulitis is an infection of the deeper layers of skin that causes your skin to swell, turn red, and become warm and tender. Oozing sores (ulcers) may also develop. Cellulitis most often occurs in the lower legs and feet.

Impetigo is a highly contagious skin rash most commonly seen in children. An infected person will have blisters that ooze and crust over after a few days.

Food poisoning: Eating food that has been contaminated by staph bacteria is one of the most common causes of food poisoning. Symptoms occur suddenly and include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Low blood pressure

Toxic shock syndrome: Also known as TSS, this potentially deadly condition results from toxins that are produced by some strains of staph bacteria.

TSS has been associated with the use of certain types of tampons, skin wounds, and surgery. Symptoms appear suddenly and include:

  • High fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion
  • A rash on your palms and soles that resembles sunburn
  • Muscle aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain

Septic Arthritis: Staph infection is a common cause of septic arthritis. The knees are most often affected, but the bacteria can target other joints including your ankle, hip, wrist, elbow, shoulder, or spine. Symptoms include:

  • Joint swelling
  • Severe pain in the affected joint
  • Fever

Bacteremia: Also known as blood poisoning, bacteremia is a more serious result of staph infection.

As the name suggests, it occurs when staph bacteria enter a person's bloodstream; symptoms include a fever and low blood pressure. Bacteremia can affect:

  • Bones
  • Muscles
  • Lungs
  • Brain
  • Heart
  • Surgically implanted devices, such as artificial joints or cardiac pacemakers
  • Kidneys

What are the symptoms for staph infection?

Persistent skin redness symptom was found in the staph infection condition

MRSA infections start out as small red Bumps that can quickly turn into deep, painful abscesses.

Staph infections can range from minor skin problems to life-threatening illness. For example, endocarditis, a serious infection of the inner lining of your heart (endocardium) can be caused by staph bacteria. Signs and symptoms of staph infections vary widely, depending on the location and severity of the infection.

Skin infections

Skin infections caused by staph bacteria include:

  • Boils. The most common type of staph infection is the boil. This is a pocket of Pus that develops in a hair follicle or oil gland. The skin over the infected area usually becomes red and swollen.

    If a boil breaks open, it will probably drain pus. Boils occur most often under the arms or around the groin or buttocks.

  • Impetigo. This contagious, often painful Rash can be caused by staph bacteria. Impetigo usually has large Blisters that may ooze fluid and develop a honey-colored crust.
  • Cellulitis. Cellulitis is an infection of the deeper layers of skin. It causes Redness and Swelling on the surface of your skin. Sores or areas of oozing discharge may develop, too.
  • Staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome. Toxins produced by the staph bacteria may cause staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome. Affecting mostly babies and children, this condition includes a fever, a Rash and sometimes blisters. When the Blisters break, the top layer of skin comes off. This leaves a red, raw surface that looks like a burn.

Food poisoning

Staph bacteria are one of the most common causes of food poisoning. The bacteria multiply in food and produce toxins that make you sick. Symptoms come on quickly, usually within hours of eating a contaminated food. Symptoms usually disappear quickly, too, often lasting just half a day.

A staph infection in food usually doesn't cause a fever. Signs and symptoms you can expect with this type of staph infection include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Low blood pressure


Also known as a bloodstream infection, bacteremia occurs when staph bacteria enter the bloodstream. A Fever and low blood pressure are signs of bacteremia. The bacteria can travel to locations deep within your body to cause infections that affect:

  • Internal organs, such as your brain (meningitis), heart (endocarditis) or lungs (pneumonia)
  • Bones and muscles
  • Surgically implanted devices, such as artificial joints or cardiac pacemakers

Toxic shock syndrome

This life-threatening condition results from toxins produced by some strains of staph bacteria. The condition has been linked to certain types of tampons, skin wounds and surgery. It usually develops suddenly with:

  • A high fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • A Rash on your palms and soles that looks like a sunburn
  • Confusion
  • Muscle aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain

Septic arthritis

Septic Arthritis is often caused by a staph infection. The bacteria often target the knees, shoulders, hips, and fingers or toes. Artificial joints may also be at risk of infection. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Joint swelling
  • Severe Pain in the affected joint
  • Fever

What are the causes for staph infection?

Many people carry staph bacteria on their skin or in their nose and never develop staph infections. However, if you develop a staph infection, there's a good chance that it's from bacteria you've been carrying around for some time.

Staph bacteria can also be spread from person to person. Because staph bacteria are so hardy, they can live on objects such as pillowcases or towels long enough to transfer to the next person who touches them.

Staph bacteria can make you sick by causing an infection. You can also become sick from the toxins produced by the bacteria.

Staph bacteria can survive:

  • Drying
  • Extremes of temperature
  • Stomach acid

What are the treatments for staph infection?

Treatment of a staph infection may include:

  • Antibiotics. Your health care provider may perform tests to identify the staph bacteria behind your infection. This can help your provider choose the antibiotic that will work best for you. Antibiotics commonly prescribed to treat staph infections include cefazolin, nafcillin, oxacillin, vancomycin, daptomycin and linezolid.

    For serious staph infections, vancomycin may be required. This is because so many strains of staph bacteria have become resistant to other traditional antibiotics. This means other antibiotics can no longer kill the staph bacteria. Vancomycin and some other antibiotics used for antibiotic-resistant staph infections have to be given through a vein (intravenously).

    If you're given an oral antibiotic, be sure to take it as directed. Finish all the medication your provider gives you. Ask your provider what signs and symptoms you should watch for that might mean your infection is getting worse.

  • Wound drainage. If you have a skin infection, your provider may make a cut (incision) into the sore to drain fluid that has collected there. The area is also thoroughly cleaned.
  • Device removal. If your infection involves a medical device, such as a urinary catheter, cardiac pacemaker or artificial joint, prompt removal of the device may be needed. For some devices, removal might require surgery.

Antibiotic resistance

Staph bacteria are very adaptable. Many varieties have become resistant to one or more antibiotics. For example, today, most staph infections can't be cured with penicillin.

Antibiotic-resistant strains of staph bacteria are often described as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains. The increase in antibiotic-resistant strains has led to the use of IV antibiotics, such as vancomycin or daptomycin, with the potential for more side effects.

What are the risk factors for staph infection?

Many factors — including the health of your immune system or the types of sports you play — can increase your risk of developing staph infections.

Underlying health conditions

Certain disorders or the medications used to treat them can make you more likely to get staph infections. People who may be more likely to get a staph infection include those with:

  • Diabetes who use insulin
  • Kidney failure requiring dialysis
  • Weakened immune systems — either from a disease or medications that suppress the immune system
  • A transplant
  • Cancer, especially those who are being treated with chemotherapy or radiation
  • Skin damage from conditions such as eczema, insect bites or minor trauma that opens the skin
  • Lung (respiratory) illness, such as cystic fibrosis or emphysema

Current or recent hospitalization

Despite strong attempts to get rid of them, staph bacteria stay present in hospitals, where they can infect people who are most at risk of infection. This can include people with:

  • Weakened immune systems
  • Burns
  • Surgical wounds

Sometimes people admitted to the hospital may be screened to see if they're carrying staph bacteria. Screening is done using a nasal swab. Treatment to get rid of the bacteria may be given to help prevent infection and decrease the spread to others.

Invasive and implanted devices

Staph bacteria can get into the body by traveling along medical tubing. These devices make a connection between the outside and the inside of your body. Examples are:

  • Urinary catheters
  • Tubing placed in a vein (intravenous catheters)

Also, staph bacteria are attracted to implanted devices, where they grow on the surface and cause infection. These include surgically implanted devices such as:

  • Artificial joints
  • Cardiac pacemakers

Contact sports

Staph bacteria can spread easily through cuts, scrapes and skin-to-skin contact. Staph infections may also spread in the locker room through shared razors, towels, uniforms or equipment.

Unsanitary food preparation

Food handlers who don't properly wash their hands can transfer staph bacteria from their skin to the food they're preparing. The bacteria multiply in the food and produce toxins that make you sick. Cooking can kill the bacteria. But the toxins are still in the food. Foods that are contaminated with staph bacteria do not look or taste differently.

Is there a cure/medications for staph infection?

The type of infection individuals have, its severity, and its location on or in the body will all affect the treatment options for a Staph Infection. Along with several skin infections, staph can also infect the blood, bones, joints, heart, and lungs.

The Staph Infection causing the infection may be found with testing by the doctor. This can aid your doctor in selecting the antibiotic that will serve you the best. To treat staph infections, doctors frequently administer cefazolin, nafcillin, oxacillin, vancomycin, daptomycin, and linezolid.

Cure or Medications for Staph Infection

  • Vancomycin: Vancomycin may be necessary for staph infections that are severe. This is due to the fact that a large number of staph bacterium strains have developed resistance to other common antibiotics. This indicates that staph bacteria are now resistant to other antibiotics. Vancomycin and a few other antibiotics used to treat staph infections that are resistant to treatment must be administered intravenously (intravenously).
  • Ensure care and follow the directions on any oral antibiotics you are prescribed. Ask your doctor what symptoms to look out for that could indicate that your infection is growing worse.
  • Wound drainage: If the infection is on the skin, the doctor may make an incision to drain fluid that has built up in the sore. Furthermore, the area is carefully cleansed.
  • Removing devices: It may be necessary to remove the medical device right away if the infection includes one, such as an urine catheter, cardiac pacemaker, or artificial joint. Surgery can be necessary for the removal of some devices.

Persistent skin redness,Swelling,Sores
Infections of the blood, bones, joints, heart, and lungs,Boils,Impetigo,Cellulitis,Staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome,Deafness,Mental retardation,Neurological abnormalities

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