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Staph Infection - Pictures, Contagious, Symptoms, Treatment, Causes

Updated on September 22, 2013

Staph Infection Pictures

What is Staph Infection?

A staphylococcal infection or famously known as staph infection is caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus. Usually we find these bacteria on our nose, mouth, genitals and anal area. This can live in our skin and fortunately not harm us. But there are times when we are wounded or our skin is broken or scraped, the dormant bacteria can be activated and cause an infection. Staphylococcus is from a gram positive genus of bacteria that consist of more than 30 species which can cause different types of infections. However, Staph infections are primarily caused by the species Staphylococcus aureus.

The Staph bacteria can bring grave risk to susceptible people. There are certain groups that are prone for this and are vulnerable because of lack of defenses. The newborn, breastfeeding women (can cause mastitis – breast inflammation) and people with chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and lung disease are just some of those people prone for acquiring Staph infection. People who regularly break their skin by injecting drugs, illicit, to their body are at risk for a Staph infection. Unfortunately, those who underwent medical treatment such as surgeries and those under immunosuppressive drugs are prone to the activation of the bacteria. Medical equipment can be a source too, especially if strict asepsis technique is not followed.

Symptoms

Since a Staph infection is commonly a skin infection the signs and symptoms are the following:

  • Localized skin abscess or boil – also known as furuncle that presents itself as swollen, red, painful lump on the skin. Pus accumulation is to be expected. You can expect this to occur in areas on the face, neck, buttocks, armpits and inner thighs.
  • Folliculitis – an infection of the hair follicles. Usually occurs to those who shave too often or have irritated skin from rubbing against inanimate objects.
  • Skin area is reddened, swollen and tender – cellulitis can develop from this phenomenon as spreading of the bacteria follows. It involves the inflammation of connective tissues under the skin. This is commonly found on the legs of the patient.
  • Pus is present (draining pus)
  • Sepsis or bacteremia that cause for a high fever and low blood pressure – there is involvement of the bloodstream that can widely spread the infection to different parts of the body including the vital organs. This is a very serious state that needs abrupt medical attention.

Other common Staph infections are the following:

  • Impetigo – this is a common illness to children that can be acquired by adults with Staph infection. There is crusting of the skin, blisters and scabbing too.
  • Acute and chronic osteomyelitis – in layman’s term bone infection. The spread of the S. aureus to the bones can result to the severe inflammation of the bones.
  • Septic arthritis – another form of Staph infection that is spread via the bloodstream which can cause a debilitating form of joint problem.
  • Acute infective endocarditis – there is involvement of the heart that can lead to failure. This is an acute illness but due to the fact that it involves the heart valves, close monitoring is very much needed.
  • Septicemia – a grave presenting sign of Staph infection that can cause shock and circulatory failure. Commonly known as blood infection.
  • Pneumonia – spreading to the lungs cannot be avoided thus the development of pneumonia follows. This can be very life-threatening and that prompt treatment should be readily done.
  • Gastroenteritis – also known as gastric flu. This is where food poisoning occurs from the Staph bacteria. The patient would experience stomach problems that can lead to dehydration if not treated immediately.

Toxic cases where the simple bacteria died but produced a toxin can be very harmful. These would induce the following conditions and are forms of complications:

  • Toxic shock syndrome – a common mishap for women who use a tampon for more than 24 hours. This condition is considered fatal for the affected person may experience signs of shock that can rapidly progress to grave conditions such as coma or organ failure.
  • Scalded skin syndrome – or known as Ritter’s disease is one of the most common complication for Staph infection. Patients would manifest widespread fluid filled blisters that are easily ruptured.

Causes

The causative agent Staphylococcus aureus can produce toxins that can truly harm a person. Usually S. aureus are responsible for the common food poisoning we have in diners, parties and the like. This causative agent frequently shows up on our nose. Since the bacteria can lay dormant in our body, when activated it can be very troublesome. S. aureus are also mostly found in active places of the body including the armpits, hair and scalp.

Staph bacteria are discovered to be a very reproductive genus. This can reproduce its own DNA and divide into another one. They form in clusters as they reproduce.

Treatment

Vaccination for Staph infection has not been developed. But one way of preventing one from acquiring the condition is to be aware of the risk factors. Know the people around you. If you are exposed to people who have a Staph infection, for example medical professionals, you need to practice frequent hand washing so to avoid cross-contamination. Wearing of protective clothing and instruments is necessary for medical professionals. These would include masks, gloves and gowns. Practicing good hygiene every day is the best method in avoiding a Staph infection. Proper care of the wounds is a must too. Keep the skin clean when it has been broken or injured. Having close contact to persons with Staph infection should be avoided. Sharing of towels or clothing from another person who’s unsuspected of having a Staph infection should not be practiced. We may never know that the person you’re sharing with has an infection. Handling food in the right way and careful way can prevent the hazards of Staph infection.

Antibiotic treatment is done for Staph infection. There are a variety of antibiotics in line for the bacteria. We have nafcillin, cefazolin, dicloxacillin, clindamycin and Bactrim as remedies. There are instances where the staph bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics. We call now this the Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or simply MRSA. Another batch of antibiotics is given to patients who developed such condition. For minor skin infections, mupirocin (bactroban) is found effective in the treatment of MRSA. In serious cases of MRSA infections, antibiotics are given in conjunction to attain effectively such as vancomycin, linezolid, rifampin, or sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim.

In order to relieve the pain, taking of analgesics or pain relievers is recommended until the infection gets better. Other pain relieving method is to apply a heating pad on the skin for about 10-20 minutes. This can relieve the discomfort even for awhile. Once you have acquired the bacteria, bathing with the use of an antibacterial soap or cleanser can reduce the skin infection. Covering the wound with a clean dressing is necessary. Do not contaminate others, be meticulous with all the things that you had made contact with and keep them away from persons uninfected.

Surgical intervention is also considered for treating a Staph infection. Draining the pus on the wound site is necessary to lessen the worsening condition. Surgery is also recommended in cases of osteomyelitis or postoperative abscesses.

Contagious

This is an infectious condition that can be acquired through simple skin breaks. The teenagers are prone to these minor skin infections. Those people who have been burnt or has another form of skin disease may get staph infection.

The mode of transmission of these bacteria is through contaminated objects. Skin-to-skin contact is another form of vehicle for transmission. The simple touching of another who is infected can contaminate one. Close contact or repeated contact and exposure to persons with this infection can initiate spread and infectivity. Inanimate objects which were contaminated by the infected person can also transmit the bacteria to a new victim. These objects include bed linens, towels, or simply clothing.

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    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Kay Badder 3 years ago from USA

      This was interesting, but I didn't know the infection was so wide spread.

    • profile image

      Dee 3 years ago

      I am in a relationship with someone that carries staph and has spread to me many times over the yrs...just broke out yesterday. I'm going to have to leave this relationship.

    • profile image

      vic 2 years ago

      Im a diabetic. ..I done had staph outbreaks in like 10 different occasions but m different areas of my body so painful

    • profile image

      Christine 2 years ago

      Dee....you are now a carrier of staph...why would you leave your relationship and go infect someone else? Your comment seems quite silly.

      Most people have it and don't know till there immune system is weakened...strengthen your immune system....and warn your new partner that you left you ex because of staph that you now have...lol hopefully they won't be as silly as you

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