What Is a Staph Infection?
A staph infection is caused by one or other strains of the staphylococcus bacteria. In a majority of cases, staph bacteria cause a minor skin infection. In such situations, a staph infection oftentimes resolves on its own accord and requires no medical intervention.
There are instances in which a staph infection can become very serious, even deadly. Staph bacteria can invade deeper into a person’s body, resulting in a potentially fatal infection of major organs, including a person’s heart and lungs. Staph bacteria can also dangerous infect a person’s joints, bones, and bloodstream.
In addition, certain strains of the staph bacteria have become resistant to many antibiotics used to treat this type of infection. These strains of staph bacteria are classified as MRSA bacteria. MRSA is also known as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus. Methicillin is a very powerful antibiotic that is ineffective against increasing strains of staph bacteria.
Generally speaking, a staph infection is classified by its location. A minor staph infection is one in that affects the upper layer(s) of a person’s skin. A more serious staph infection is one that is found deeper into an individual’s skin. Finally, a serious and potentially fatal staph infection is one that has worked its way into a person’s body, as described a moment ago.
How Do People Get a Staph Infection?
A staph infection can be contracted in a number of different ways. This includes the spread of an MRSA infection.
Before diving into the specific ways in which people can become infected with the staph bacteria, it is important to understand that there is a segment of the population that carries the bacteria on their persons but who are not infected by it.
People not infected with by the bacteria nonetheless can carry staph bacteria on their skin or in the noses. If a person carrying the bacteria in this manner sneezes, the possibility exists that the bacteria will be spread around the vicinity of that individual. In addition, another individual can end up a carrier of the bacteria or infected by it if that person comes into direct contact with a host’s skin.
A person can become infected by staph bacteria if unprotected contact occurs with an active infection on another individual’s skin. This underscores the need to wear protective gloves and perhaps other gear if someone is going to come into contact with an active staph infection on a person’s skin.
Staph bacteria are also capable of surviving on surfaces and objects of different types for what can prove to be an extended period of time. For example, a person carrying the bacteria could do something as commonplace as using a doorknob to open a door. Another person with a tiny nick on his or her and might then use the door and end up having staph bacteria pass into the tiny wound, resulting in an infection.
What Are the Symptoms of a Staph Infection?
The symptoms of a staph infection depend on its location and associated severity. When a minor staph infection occurs on the skin, it oftentimes looks like a tiny boil (appears much like a pimple).
If the infection goes deeper into a person’s skin, the infected area will become red, hot, and even become painful to touch. Pockets of pus will develop in the infected area.
Finally, if an infection burrows deep into a person’s body, the specific symptoms depend on the part of a person’s body that is impacted by the bacteria. With that said, common symptoms of a more serious staph infection include:
- High fever
- Muscle aches
- Abdominal pain
The reality is that a person should be under a doctor’s care before a staph infection gets to such an advanced stage, as is discussed in a moment.
What Do I Do If I Think I Have a Staph Infection?
If you think you have got a staph infection, you should contact your doctor to confirm that is the issue. If a staph infection is minor, and limited to the upper level of your skin, your body should be able to fight it off on its own.
The reality is that you should avoid taking antibiotics unless they are absolutely necessary. There are two primary reasons why certain strains of staph are becoming resistant to antibiotics:
- Over-prescribing of antibiotics, including when people have a virus rather than a bacterial infection (antibiotics being of no effect if a virus is the cause of an illness)
- Failure of patients to complete the full regimen of doses prescribed for an infection
If you don’t see improvement in the infection in a matter of a few days, or if the condition significantly worsens, you need to schedule a follow-up appointment with your physician.
How Is a Staph Infection Treated?
At the present time, there are two primary courses of treatment for a staph infection:
- Draining the infected area
- Administration of antibiotics
Depending on the location of the infection, both courses of treatment may be followed. If an infection becomes particularly severe, including spreading in the deeper layers of a person’s skin or has burrowed into a person’s body, hospitalization and the administration of a powerful intravenous antibiotic may become necessary.