Who Is At Risk For Staph Infections
Anyone can develop a staph infection, although certain groups of people are at greater risk, including newborn infants, breastfeeding women, and people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, cancer, vascular disease, and lung disease. Injecting drug users, those with skin injuries or disorders, intravenous catheters, surgical incisions, and those with a weakened immune system due either to disease or a result of immune suppressing medications all have an increased risk of developing staph infections.
What Can I Do To Help Relieve Symptoms Of Staph Infection
It is important to see your doctor if you think you might have a staph infection. To relieve the symptoms of staph infection on the skin, you should clean the affected area with soap and water. Cold compresses and over-the-counter pain relievers may ease the discomfort of skin infection.
In cases of food poisoning, drink plenty of liquids while you are recovering to reduce your risk of dehydration. Massage and warm compresses can relieve the symptoms of mastitis.
How Staph Infections Are Spread
The bacteria that cause staph infections live harmlessly on many people’s skin, often in the nose and armpits and on the buttocks.
They usually only cause an infection if they get into the skin for example, through a bite or cut.
Staph bacteria can spread to others through:
- close skin contact
- sharing things like towels or toothbrushes
- droplets in coughs and sneezes
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What You Can Do
You may want to note down the following information:
- Detailed descriptions of your symptoms
- Information about medical problems you’ve had
- Information about the medical problems of your parents or siblings
- All the medications and dietary supplements you take
- Questions you want to ask the doctor
For a staph infection, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What’s the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- What kind of tests do I need?
- What’s the best treatment for a staph infection?
- Am I contagious?
- How can I tell if my infection is getting better or worse?
- Are there any activity restrictions that I need to follow?
- I have other health conditions. How can I best manage these conditions together?
- Do you have any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend?
How Is Staph Infection Diagnosed
Your doctorâs diagnosis of a staph infection depends on what area of the body is affected.
- Skin: Usually, doctors diagnose a staph infection on the skin by examining the affected area. Your doctor may choose to take a sample of the skin to test for the bacteria.
- Food poisoning: Your doctor will ask about the length and severity of your symptoms and may take a stool sample.
- Mastitis: After considering your symptoms, your doctor may send a sample of your breast milk to a lab to test for the presence of bacteria.
- Toxic shock syndrome: Your doctor may take a urine or blood sample to check for bacteria. Sometimes, doctors will also order a CT scan to see if the infection is affecting the organs.
- Endocarditis: Diagnosis is based on symptoms, blood tests, and an echocardiogram.
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What Is The Treatment Of Staphylococcal Infection
The treatment of staphylococcal infection includes:
- Appropriate antibiotics, including oral antibiotics cephalexin, clindamycin, amoxicillin/clavulanate
- Drainage of pus from infection site
- Surgical removal of dead tissue
- Removal of foreign bodies that may be a focus of persisting infection
- Treating the underlying skin disease
Is It Possible To Prevent Staph Infections
No vaccine is available to prevent a Staphylococcus aureus infection. Since the bacteria are so widespread and cause so many different diseases, the prevention of staph infections requires attention to the risk factors that may increase the likelihood of getting a particular type of staph infection. For example, it is possible for menstruating women to reduce the risk of toxic shock syndrome by frequently changing tampons , using low-absorbency tampons, and alternating sanitary pads and tampon use. Careful attention to food-handling and food-preparation practices can decrease the risk of staphylococcal food poisoning. Prevention of staph infections can be aided by proper hygiene when caring for skin wounds. Careful hand washing, avoiding close skin contact with possible infected individuals, and proper hygienic care of skin scrapes, cuts, and wounds can all reduce the likelihood of skin infections due to staph, including community-acquired MRSA.
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What You Can Do In The Meantime
If you suspect you have a staph infection on your skin, keep the area clean and covered until you see your doctor so that you don’t spread the bacteria. And, until you know whether or not you have staph, don’t prepare food.
Who Treats Staph Infections
Primary care doctors, such as internists, family medicine physicians, and pediatricians, can treat a mild case of staph. In some cases, your primary care doctor may refer you to a dermatologist for staph infections of the skin.
If your infection progresses or you develop complications, you might have to see an infectious disease specialist or a surgeon.
If you experience severe symptoms, such as a red or tender area of skin going numb, a reddened area becoming larger or hard to the touch, worsening pain, or high fever or chills, you should seek emergency medical attention at once.
Skin infections that occur in or around the eyes should also be treated as an emergency.
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Can Staph Infections Be Prevented
A couple of recent outbreaks among football players began when one team member had a boil and the infection was spread to other team members. You can take steps to help prevent staph infections. Any time you have a cut or skin breakdown, wash it with soap and water, over-the- counter hypochlorous acid or chlorhexadine, keep it clean and dry, and keep it covered. A diluted bleach bath twice a week may be helpful to prevent staph skin infections.
A staph infection is contagious if the wound is weeping or draining and if people share towels or other items that are contaminated. Wearing foot coverings in locker rooms and other commonly used areas can help prevent contamination.
If the sore becomes unusually painful or red, get prompt medical attention. If red lines develop, that’s a sign the infection is spreading and needs immediate medical attention.
Prevention Of Staphylococcal Infection
Due to widespread antibiotic resistance, it is better to prevent staphylococcal infection where possible.
- The most effective way is to wash hands often, and before and after touching broken skin.
- It is also important to clear bacteria colonising the nostrils and under the fingernails with either antibiotic ointment or petroleum jelly several times daily for one week of each month.
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Prevention Of Staph Infections
People can help prevent the spread of these bacteria by always thoroughly washing their hands with soap and water or applying an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Some doctors recommend applying the antibiotic mupirocin inside the nostrils to eliminate staphylococci from the nose. However, because overusing mupirocin can lead to mupirocin resistance, this antibiotic is used only when people are likely to get an infection. For example, it is given to people before certain operations or to people who live in a household in which the skin infection is spreading.
If carriers of staphylococci need to have certain types of surgery, they are often treated with an antibiotic before the surgery.
People with a staphylococcal skin infection should not handle food.
In some health care facilities, people are routinely screened for MRSA when they are admitted. Some facilities screen only people who are at increased of getting a MRSA infection, such as those who are about to have certain operations. Screening involves testing a sample taken from the nose with a cotton swab. If MRSA strains are detected, people are isolated to prevent spread of the bacteria.
Recovery Time And Outlook
The recovery time for a staph infection depends on the type and severity of the infection, as well as the strength of a persons immune system.
Food poisoning staph will usually pass within 2448 hours, but it may take 3 days or longer to feel well.
A staph infection at the surface of the skin may heal with just a few days of treatment. However, if a large sore or wound has developed, it may require several weeks of treatment or longer.
If a systemic staph infection develops in the heart, lungs, bloodstream, or another organ system, treatment can take weeks to months. In rare cases, these staph infections can lead to sepsis, a dangerous condition in which the immune system has an exaggerated response to infection.
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How Is Staphylococcal Infection Diagnosed
The diagnosis of staphylococcal skin infection is often clinical. If there are difficulties in diagnosis, or first-line treatment fails, the diagnosis can be confirmed by a positive laboratory culture of a swab from the infected site or blood culture.
In staphylococcal intoxication, there may be no viable bacteria to culture and the diagnosis may be made retrospectively on the basis of a blood test demonstrating an immune response to toxins following a compatible illness.
How Are Staph Infections Treated
Most small staph skin infections can be treated at home:
- Soak the affected area in warm water or apply warm, moist washcloths. Use a cloth or towel only once when you soak or clean an area of infected skin. Then, wash them in soap and hot water and dry them fully in a clothes dryer.
- Put a heating pad or a hot water bottle to the skin for about 20 minutes, three or four times a day.
- Apply antibiotic ointment, if recommended by your doctor.
- Give pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen to ease pain until the infection goes away. Follow the package directions on how much to give and how often.
- Cover the skin with a clean dressing or bandage.
Treat a stye by using warm compresses over the eye three or four times a day. Always use a clean washcloth each time. Occasionally, a stye will need a topical antibiotic.
Teens who get a staph infection on skin areas that are normally shaved should stop shaving until the infection clears up. If they do have to shave the area, they should use a clean disposable razor or clean the electric razor after each use.
Your doctor may prescribe an oral antibiotic for a staph skin infection. Give it on schedule for as many days as directed. More serious staph infections might need to be treated in a hospital, and an abscess that doesn’t respond to home care might need to be drained.
To help prevent a staph infection from spreading to other parts of the body:
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Skin And Soft Tissue Infections
Drainage of any collections of pus is of paramount importance. For small abscesses in afebrile toddlers and children, drainage alone may suffice, since treatment with efficacious and nonefficacious systemic antibacterial therapy was equivalent if adequate drainage had occurred. Placement of a subcutaneous drain, rather than formal incision and drainage, has proven successful.
If My Health Care Provider Has Told Me That I Have An Antibiotic
Take the following steps to prevent the spread of antibiotic-resistant staph skin infection to others:
If you have questions about MRSA, please talk with your health care provider.
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What Is A Staph Infection Of The Skin
A staph infection is caused by a Staphylococcus bacteria. Actually, about 25% of people normally carry staph in the nose, mouth, genitals, or anal area, and donât have symptoms of an infection. The foot is also very prone to picking up bacteria from the floor. The infection often begins with a little cut, which gets infected with bacteria. This can look like honey-yellow crusting on the skin.
These staph infections range from a simple boil to antibiotic-resistant infections to flesh-eating infections. The difference between all these is the strength of the infection, how deep it goes, how fast it spreads, and how treatable it is with antibiotics. The antibiotic-resistant infections are more common in North America, because of our overuse of antibiotics.
One type of staph infection that involves skin is called cellulitis and affects the skin’s deeper layers. It is treatable with antibiotics.
This type of infection is very common in the general population — and more common and more severe in people with weak immune systems. People who have diabetes or weakened immunity are particularly prone to developing cellulitis.
How Common Is Staph Infection
There are millions of skin staph infections in the United States every year. Most of these cases are mild and treated with antibiotics. It is common for the Staphylococcus bacteria to live on the skin or in the nose of healthy people. The bacteria only cause problems when they make their way inside the body. However, there are many thousands of serious cases of S. aureus infection in the United States every year.
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Management Of Staphylococcus Aureus Infections
DAVID M. BAMBERGER, M.D., and SARAH E. BOYD, M.D.
University of MissouriKansas City, Kansas City, Missouri
Am Fam Physician. 2005 Dec 15 72:2474-2481.
Because of high incidence, morbidity, and antimicrobial resistance, Staphylococcus aureus infections are a growing concern for family physicians. Strains of S. aureus that are resistant to vancomycin are now recognized. Increasing incidence of unrecognized community-acquired methicillin-resistant S. aureus infections pose a high risk for morbidity and mortality. Although the incidence of complex S. aureus infections is rising, new antimicrobial agents, including daptomycin and linezolid, are available as treatment. S. aureus is a common pathogen in skin, soft-tissue, catheter-related, bone, joint, pulmonary, and central nervous system infections. S. aureus bacteremias are particularly problematic because of the high incidence of associated complicated infections, including infective endocarditis. Adherence to precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, especially handwashing, is suboptimal.
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Vancomycin should not be used for known methicillin- susceptible Staphylococcus aureus infections unless there is a betalactam allergy.
MRSA = methicillin-resistant S. aureus.
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Vancomycin should not be used for known methicillin- susceptible Staphylococcus aureus infections unless there is a betalactam allergy.
How Are Nasal Staph Infections Treated
Antibiotics treat staph infections. Your doctor might prescribe you oral antibiotics, a topical antibiotic ointment, or both.
If you have MRSA, your doctor will probably prescribe you a stronger antibiotic or even intravenous antibiotics if the infection is severe or not responding to treatment.
Make sure you take the full course of antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor, even if you start to feel better before finishing them. Otherwise, you may not kill all of the bacteria, which can make them resistant to antibiotics.
If you have a large boil or other lesion, you may need to have it drained. Resist the urge to pop or drain it on your own. That can cause the infection to spread.
Mild staph infections often heal on their own without any treatment.
However, some staph infections can quickly become serious and cause certain complications, such as:
- Cellulitis. An infection occurs in the deeper layers of your skin.
- Cavernous sinus thrombosis. This rare but serious complication of nasal or facial infections involves the formation of a blood clot at the base of your brain.
- Potentially life-threatening, this condition is your bodys extreme response to an infection.
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Treatment Of Staph Infections
Sometimes surgical removal of infected bone and/or foreign material
Infections due to Staphylococcus aureus are treated with antibiotics. Doctors try to determine whether the bacteria are resistant to antibiotics and, if so, to which antibiotics.
Infection that is acquired in a hospital is treated with antibiotics that are effective against MRSA. They include vancomycin, linezolid, tedizolid, quinupristin plus dalfopristin, ceftaroline, telavancin, or daptomycin. If results of testing later indicate that the strain is susceptible to methicillin and the person is not allergic to penicillin, a drug related to methicillin, such as nafcillin or oxacillin, is used. Depending on how severe the infection is, antibiotics may be given for weeks.
MRSA infection can be acquired outside of a health care facility. The community-acquired MRSA strains are usually susceptible to other antibiotics, such as trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, clindamycin, minocycline, or doxycycline, as well as to the antibiotics used to treat MRSA infections acquired in the hospital.
Mild skin infections due to MRSA, such as folliculitis, are usually treated with an ointment, such as one that contains bacitracin, neomycin, and polymyxin B or mupirocin . If more than an ointment is required, antibiotics effective against MRSA are given by mouth or intravenously. Which antibiotic is used depends on the severity of the infection and the results of susceptibility testing.