Staph infection is caused by Staphylococcus bacteria, which are typically located on skin cells and in the nose of healthy people. Although these bacteria are typically harmless, they can cause infections if they penetrate the body through wounds, cuts, or other skin injuries.
What is a staph infection?
Staph is the abbreviated form of the bacterial group Staphylococcus. These bacteria reside quietly on numerous skin surfaces, particularly around the nostrils, mouth, genitals, and anus. However, staph bacteria may penetrate and trigger an infection if the skin is broken or punctured.
In addition to causing the most common type of staph infection on the skin, staphylococcus aureus has the potential to release toxins that can cause food poisoning and toxic shock syndrome.
Types of staph infections
In general, staph infections can be either skin infections or invasive infections. While skin infections can be unpleasant and painful, they are typically not life-threatening. However, if not treated, they might progress to invasive infections, which can be fatal when not treated promptly.
Staph can cause a wide variety of skin infections, including the following:
- Abscesses and boils: These painful sores develop beneath the skin, causing redness and discomfort.
- Cellulitis: Symptoms of this infection include a painful, swelling red rash on the skin and the tissue right beneath it.
- Folliculitis: A small, painful wound resembling a pimple forms beneath your hair follicle.
- Impetigo: Fluid-filled blisters or spots develop and eventually burst, leaving a yellowish or brownish crust behind.
- Staphylococcal Scalded Skin Syndrome: This severe infection results in extensive skin peeling, and it is mainly found in infants and children.
- Stye: A stye is a small, red, extremely painful bump that develops at the base of an eyelash or beneath the eyelid. The center of the bump is typically filled with fluid or pus.
Staph infections become invasive when the bacteria spread to the bloodstream. Types include:
- Sepsis: Sepsis is a bloodstream infection that causes a broad inflammatory reaction. It is one of the most risky complications of staph and may travel throughout the body, impairing internal organ performance.
- Septic Arthritis: This infection attacks your joints, typically the knees, hips, shoulders, finger, and toe joints.
- Toxic Shock Syndrome: This serious illness occurs when staph bacteria create poisons and enter the bloodstream. Although high-absorbency tampon use has been associated with toxic shock syndrome, anybody, including men, children, and non-tampon-using women, is at risk.
- Endocarditis: Endocarditis develops when bacteria infect heart tissue, most often the heart valves. The infection might cause permanent damage to your heart valves if not addressed promptly.
- Pneumonia: Pneumonia is an extremely prevalent infection that makes breathing difficult due to swelling and fluid buildup in the lung air sacs.
- Food Poisoning: People with staph bacteria on their hands typically contaminate food by touching it with their hands. Antibiotics are not effective against this because it is not a bacterial infection.
What are the symptoms of a staph infection?
Staph infection signs can range from mild to severe, depending on the type of infection. The following are some of the most often reported symptoms of a staph infection:
- Skin irritation, redness, and swelling.
- Drainage or pus coming from a wounded spot.
- Soreness or pain in the infected area.
- Shuddering, chills, or high temperature.
- Nausea and vomiting (food poisoning symptoms).
- Joint pain and swelling (septic arthritis symptoms).
How are staph infections treated?
An antibiotic cream or ointment can be administered directly to the skin to treat a staph infection. When treating a boil or abscess, your doctor may puncture the skin and drain the pus that collects there.
Antibiotics used topically or taken orally are also used to treat staph infections. The antibiotic prescribed is likely to change based on the nature of the infection. When oral medicines are ineffective against a serious staph infection, doctors turn to intravenous (IV) medications.
Book your appointment at Novomed today!
Board-certified dermatologists at Novomed are passionate about assisting patients in achieving healthy, clear skin and employ cutting-edge treatments and technologies to provide successful treatments for various skin conditions. Whether you’re suffering from a staph infection or another skin condition, our specialists can customize a treatment plan to your specific requirements.
To book an appointment or for more information about staph infection, call us toll-free at 800 (NOVO) 6686 or click the live chat icon at the bottom of the screen.