Staph infection treatment
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About Staph infection
Staph infections - short for staphylococcus infections - are caused by the staphylococcus bacteria. There are more than 30 strains of this bacteria, many of which cause mild infections at the most. However, depending on the location of the infection and the pathogen causing it, staph infections can lead to serious - even life-threatening - medical conditions. There are millions of cases of staph infections reported every year, with several thousand serious cases among them.
The symptoms of a staph infection usually appear on the skin.
- Boils: Boils are painful sores that appear just under the skin. As these develop, they become red, swollen, and pus-filled. If a boil bursts, it may leak pus.
- Impetigo: Impetigo commonly affects young children. An infection of the staph bacteria will cause shallow sores around the nose and mouth, which burst and create a honey-colored crust.
- Cellulitis: Cellulitis causes painful, red swelling under the surface of the skin. In some cases, cellulitis may result in oozing sores that rupture and discharge pus.
- Staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome: Also known as SSSS, this infection results in a fever and causes blistering all over the skin. Once these blisters burst, the top layer of skin begins to peel off (creating the appearance of burned skin). This condition commonly affects young children.
Staph bacteria is a common cause of food poisoning. These infections will usually only last a few days, but symptoms can be severe.
Septicemia occurs when staph bacteria enter the bloodstream and infect the blood. The common symptoms of staph-related blood poisoning are fever and dangerously low blood pressure. A serious form of septicemia - toxic shock syndrome - is caused by toxins released by staph bacteria through tampons, skin wounds, or surgery. Toxic shock syndrome can be potentially fatal and results in symptoms such as:
- Nausea & vomiting
- A red rash resembling a sunburn (usually on the hands and feet)
- Muscle aches
- Dizziness or fainting
- Dangerously low blood pressure
- Internal organ failure
Staph bacteria live on the body, often causing no symptoms at all. Infection occurs when harmful strains of the bacteria enter the body through the mouth, or a break in the skin. Staph bacteria can be spread from person to person, but can be prevented through good hygiene, regular laundering of sheets and bedding, and not sharing personal items. It is recommended that women who use tampons change them frequently (every 4-8 hours), as long-term use of a single tampon has been known to cause toxic shock syndrome.
Staph infections are treated with a course of antibiotic medication that kills the harmful bacteria. More information on antibiotic therapy for staph infections is below. During your appointment, talk to your provider about the best treatment plan for you.