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Dr. Gupta
Dr. Gupta, Doctor (MD)
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what is a staff infection and how can u get it???

Customer Question

what is a staff infection and how can u get it???
Submitted: 11 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  Dr. Gupta replied 11 years ago.
Dear XXXXXttney,
WHat you want to know is about Staph infection, here are some details about staphylococcal infections (in children, but applicable to adults too)
Conditions known as staph infections are those caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. Many healthy people carry staph bacteria in their noses without getting sick. But when the skin is punctured or broken, staph bacteria can enter the wound and cause infections, which can lead to other health problems.

You can help prevent your child from developing a staph infection by encouraging regular hand washing, keeping your child's skin clean with a daily bath, and keeping areas that have been cut clean or covered.

How Do Staph Infections Spread?
Staph can spread through the air, on contaminated surfaces, and from person to person. A child can carry staph bacteria from one area of his or her body to another on dirty hands and under dirty fingernails. Staph can pass from person to person the same way. So hand washing is the most important way to prevent staph infections from developing.

You can also help prevent staph skin infections by keeping your child's skin clean with a daily bath or shower. If your child has a skin condition such as eczema that makes frequent bathing difficult, it's a good idea to speak with your child's doctor.

Keep areas of the skin that have been injured - cuts, scrapes, and rashes caused by allergic reactions or poison ivy - clean and covered, and use any other treatments that your doctor suggests.

Complications From Staph Infections
Staph bacteria can cause folliculitis, boils, scalded skin syndrome, impetigo, toxic shock syndrome, cellulitis, and other types of infections.

Impetigo is a skin infection that can affect skin anywhere on the body but commonly occurs in the area around the nose and mouth.

Impetigo usually affects preschool- and school-age children, especially in the summer months. Impetigo caused by staph bacteria is characterized by large blisters containing fluid that is first clear, then cloudy. The blisters may burst, ooze fluid, and develop a honey-colored crust. Impetigo may itch, and it can be spread by scratching. Typically, impetigo is treated with a topical ointment prescribed by a doctor, and depending on the severity, oral antibiotics may be added.

Folliculitis and Boils
Folliculitis is an infection of hair follicles, tiny pockets under the skin where hair shafts (strands) grow. In folliculitis, tiny white-headed pimples appear at the base of hair shafts, sometimes with a small red area around each pimple. Folliculitis can happen especially in children who have fine hair that they wear pulled back tightly in barrettes or braids.

Without treatment, folliculitis can either heal within 1 week or progress to become boils. With a boil, the staph infection spreads deeper and wider, often affecting the skin's subcutaneous tissue (deeper tissue under the skin) and the oil-producing glands, which are called sebaceous glands. In the first stage, which parents and kids often miss, the area of skin either begins to itch or becomes mildly painful. Next, the skin turns red and begins to swell over the infected area. Finally, the skin above the infection becomes very tender, and a whitish "head" may appear. The head may break, and the boil may begin to drain pus, blood, or an amber-colored liquid. Boils can occur anywhere on the skin, especially under the arms or the groin or buttocks in children.

To help relieve pain from a boil, try warm water soaks, a heating pad, or a hot water bottle applied to the skin for about 20 minutes, three or four times a day. Boils are treated, occasionally with oral antibiotics, and in some cases, they need to be surgically drained.

Without treatment, boils may heal once they open up and drain, but treatment makes them heal faster and may prevent the staph infection from spreading to other skin areas.

Scalded Skin Syndrome
Scalded skin syndrome (SSS) most often affects newborns and children under age 5. The illness usually starts with a localized staph skin infection, but the staph bacteria manufacture a toxin that affects skin all over the body. The child has a fever, rash, and sometimes blisters. The rash begins around the mouth, then spreads to the trunk, arms, and legs. As blisters burst and the rash passes, the top layer of skin is dislodged and the skin surface becomes red and raw, like a burn.

Scalded skin syndrome is a serious illness that needs to be treated and monitored in a hospital. It affects the body in the same way as serious burns. After treatment, most kids make a full recovery from SSS.

Treating Staph Infections
Most localized staph skin infections can be treated by washing the skin with an antibacterial cleanser, applying an antibiotic ointment prescribed by a doctor, and covering the skin with a clean dressing. To keep the infection from spreading, use a towel only once when you clean an area of infected skin, then wash it (or use disposable towels).

For most serious staph skin infections, your child's doctor may prescribe an antibiotic for your child. If so, give the antibiotic on schedule for as many days as your doctor directs.

It's a good idea to call the doctor whenever your child has an area of red, irritated, or painful skin, especially if you see whitish pus-filled areas or your child has a fever or is acting sick. Also, call the doctor if skin infections seem to be passing from one family member to another or if two or more family members have skin infections simultaneously.
For more information try these resources:
Here is some information on resistant staph infection:

Do let me know if you need more information, please remember to 'accept' the reply if you find it useful; a positive rating & a bonus at your discretion would be appreciated,
Dr. Gupta