Staph infections are caused by staphylococcus bacteria. These types of germs are commonly found on the skin or in the nose. Most of the time, these bacteria cause no problems or result in relatively minor skin infections.
Many people carry staph bacteria and never develop staph infections. Staph infections can turn deadly if the bacteria invade deeper into your body, entering your bloodstream, joints, bones, lungs or heart. As a result, signs and symptoms of staph infections can vary widely, depending on the location and severity of the infection.
Treatment usually involves antibiotics and drainage of the infected area.
Skin infections caused by staph bacteria include:
- Boils - The most common type of staph infection is the boil, a pocket of pus that develops in a hair follicle or oil gland. The skin over the infected area usually becomes red and swollen.
- Impetigo - This contagious, often painful rash can be caused by staph bacteria. Impetigo usually features large blisters that may ooze fluid and develop a honey-colored crust.
Staph infections are a common cause of food poisoning. Symptoms usually come on quickly, within hours of eating a food contaminated with staphylococcus bacteria. Symptoms usually disappear just as quickly, often lasting just half a day.
Blood poisoning or bacteremia occurs when staph bacteria enter a person's bloodstream. A fever and low blood pressure are signs of bacteremia. The bacteria can travel to locations deep within your body, producing infections that can affect:
- Internal organs, such as your brain, heart or lungs
- Bones and muscles
- Surgically implanted devices, such as artificial joints or cardiac pacemakers
Toxic shock syndrome is a life-threatening condition that results from toxins produced by some strains of staph bacteria and has been linked to the use of certain types of tampons, skin wounds and surgery. It usually develops suddenly with:
- A high fever
- Nausea and vomiting
- A rash on your palms and soles that resembles sunburn
- Muscle aches
- Abdominal pain
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