Staphylococcal or staph is one of over thirty types of bacteria with Staphylococcus aureus being the most common to cause infections. Generally harmless, bacteria are widespread in the water, the ground and in our bodies. It actually outnumbers the cells in our bodies more than ten to one. The presence of harmless bacteria actually protects the body from the harmful, disease producing bacteria by creating antibodies that help our body ward off infection.
Bacteria also help produce our food by fertilizing the soil, and aids in the digestion of those foods by our bodies. However, some bacteria can cause disease and other bodily harm, such as staph infections. Note that staph infection is often misspelled as “staff infection.” There are numerous staph infections possible including pneumonia, blood poisoning, food poisoning, toxic shock syndrome and various skin infections.
Common Staph Infections
Skin infections, such as pimples and boils are the most common. Boils are hard, round abscesses of the skin and tissues under the skin that can pop up anywhere on the body. These red, swollen infections are painful because of the accumulation of pus and pressure on the nerves. Boils need to be treated by a physician because they can escalate into something very serious or life-threatening if not treated correctly. Complications may include blood infection, bone infection, toxic shock syndrome, and lymph nodes or heart valve infection. The staph bacteria can also cause pneumonia, ear infections, and sinusitis.
Patients who have eczema or impetigo seem to be more susceptible to developing boils. Even a simple scratch or cut can become infected with the staph bacteria if care is not taken to clean it immediately. Staph infections are suspected in any sore that becomes red or painful. If red lines radiate from the wound, the infection has spread. Get medical help immediately. You should never self-diagnose or self-prescribe. Only a physician can properly diagnose a staph infection and determine treatment.
Some people are “carriers” of the staph bacteria without actually manifesting any type of infection themselves. You probably will not know which people are a danger to you. And since staph infections are spread easily through contact, vigilant cleanliness is imperative for prevention. All it takes to become infected is to touch an object contaminated by an infected person and then touch your nose, sending the bacteria through the nasal canal and through your body, eventually causing a skin infection.
Wash your hands often when in contact with other people. Even the grocery cart handle can put you at risk. Wash all skin cuts or scratches with plain soap and water, dry, apply an antiseptic cream and a bandage to prevent any seepage from further contaminating. Do not share towels or wash cloths with others. Wear shoes or at least socks in public places. If you are going to be a caregiver to someone who has a known staph infection, take precautions to protect yourself. Wear a mask if pneumonia is suspected and disposable gloves at all times when touching the patient or the patient’s surroundings.
MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is a bacterial infection, often starting as a boil, which is resistant to antibiotic treatment. MRSA can be spread in a hospital setting or in a community setting such as a sweaty gym. Unfortunately, these tough bacteria can even survive on dry surfaces. It is extremely contagious by touch. Generally, MRSA is not spread through the air unless the germs are spread through the coughing produced by pneumonia. Patients with MRSA are often isolated from other patients to prevent an epidemic. MRSA is a particular cause for alarm in hospitals because it can easily be spread among patients. Because staph infections can become serious, good hygiene is very important in any setting, but especially in hospitals and other areas where people may be more vulnerable to ill health.
Potentially Serious Infections
Staph infections can be fatal if not treated immediately by a physician. Once infected, it is possible that the patient will become a carrier, even after successful completion of treatment. The carrier should use an antiseptic soap for washing all body parts including under the fingernails. Disinfect the kitchen and bathroom in the home with antiseptics. Do not share shavers, clothing, shoes, towels or washcloths.
Scrupulous cleanliness is imperative to eliminate the danger of spreading the disease whether you are a carrier or not. Strict preventative measures will lessen any chances that you will either spread a staph infection or acquire one from others.
A staph infection is caused by bacteria. This bacteria is very common and everyone has it on their skin, in their noses, and on other parts of their body. It’s normal and usually it doesn’t cause any problems. However, when a person gets too much staph bacteria on his or her skin, or when it enters the body through an open wound, it can cause an infection. In rare cases, these kinds of infections can be fatal, especially if they are resistant to antibiotics like the MRSA strain that is often talked about in medical news.
People co-exist peacefully with all kinds of germs and bacteria for the most part, however, which means that you shouldn’t be overly worried about getting sick from staph. It’s just important to follow some basic hygiene rules like bathing regularly and making sure that you wash your hands before you eat, after you use the bathroom, and other times when they may be dirty, such as after changing a baby or coming into close contact with someone who is sick. Most staph infections are in the form of pimples and boils, and they don’t cause much harm. The body fights them off and takes care of them without a serious problem.
Some people are natural carriers of more staph bacteria than others, and these people are more prone to getting skin infections because they carry so much bacteria around on their bodies. They can also pass that bacteria along to other people and make those people sick without meaning to. If you are one of these people or you live with one, it’s very important that you keep yourself very clean, treat any cuts or abrasions promptly, and encourage good hygiene in all of those people around you to minimize the extent of the staph problem. The bacteria is particularly problematic in hospitals and can easily be spread from patient to patient from something as simple as forgetting to wash one’s hands. Because staph infections can become serious, good hygiene is very important in any setting, but especially in hospitals and other areas where people may be more vulnerable to ill health.