What is a "Staph" infection?

What Is a Staph Infection?
Staph is the shortened form of Staphylococcus (pronounced: staf-uh-low-kah-kus), a type of bacteria. These bacteria are common and can live harmlessly on many skin surfaces, especially around the nose and mouth. But when the skin is punctured or broken for any reason, staph bacteria can enter the wound and cause an infection.

 

Who Gets Staph Skin Infections?
Kids, teens, and adults can all develop staph skin infections. People with skin problems like burns or eczema may be more likely to get them, though. Warm, humid environments also contribute to staph infections, and excessive sweating can increase a person's chances of developing the infection. Clusters of cases can occur in groups of people who live in crowded conditions (such as in college dorms). This can be the result of sharing personal items like towels, razors or clothing. People who have health problems such as
diabetes, malnutrition, cancer, HIV infection, or any other condition that weakens the immune system may be more likely to get more serious staph infections.

Impetigo (pronounced: im-puh-tee-go) or staph is a superficial skin infection seen most commonly in young children, but it can sometimes affect adolescents and adults. Most impetigo infections affect a person's face or extremities like the hands and feet. An impetigo lesion begins as a tender, red bump that evolves into a small blister or pimple, and then develops a honey-colored crust. It is a mild condition with no pain or fever, although impetigo blisters may itch and can be spread to other parts of the body by scratching.

*Community Aquired Methicillin Resistant Staph-looks like a spider bite. It may be on any part of the body. It starts as what appears to be an insect bite surrounded by redness. The redness increases in size and becomes more painful. It has a black center core, if squeezed or becomes too large will rupture producing a black/gray/white pussy discharge. If your child has a sore and you have to take them to the doctor for it be sure to tell the doctor that staph is going around the school and insist they culture it. If they do not culture it and treat it you do not know if what they have prescribed is the correct antibiotic. If it is not treated with the correct antibiotic it will return and the affected child will still be contagious. You may have to insist on this culture, but it will save you money and the risk of continuing the infection and passing it on to other family members or teammates .

Can I Prevent a Staph Skin Infection?

Hand washing is the best way to prevent staph (and other) infections. You can help prevent staph skin infections by bathing or showering daily. Our fingers can carry staph bacteria from one area of the body to another, causing infections in wounds or broken skin. Keep areas of skin that have been injured - such as cuts, scrapes, areas affected by eczema, and rashes caused by allergic reactionsor poison ivy - clean and covered, and use any antibiotic ointments or other treatments that your doctor suggests. If someone in your family has a staph infection, don't share towels, sheets, or clothing until the infection has been fully treated. If you develop a staph infection, be careful not to touch the infected skin. This will prevent the infection from spreading to other skin areas.

 

How Are Staph Infections Treated?
You can treat most small staph skin infections that aren't serious at home by washing the skin with an antibacterial cleanser, applying an antibiotic ointment, and covering the skin with a clean dressing. To prevent the spread of infection, use a towel only once when you clean an area of infected skin, then wash it in hot water (or use disposable towels). It may take from 5-20 days to heal according to the severity.