Did you know that at any given time, about 25 percent of the population is carrying around staph bacteria on their skin? Staphylococcus, is a type of bacteria responsible for boils, impetigo, cellulitis, and also styes on the eye, and it is fairly common.
Even though its so common, most people dont know how to tell when theyre getting an infection until it really starts to bother them, and for children this is especially important. Read on to find out why.
Staph can be transmitted by way of contaminated objects, and also by skin-to-skin contact. Individuals who suffer from burns or eczema are more likely to contract a Staph infection.
Staph infections can easily spread from one individual to another especially in close living conditions like families, and college dorms. This can happen when items are shared such as towels, bed linens, or clothing. Warm, and humid environments can also contribute to the spread of Staph.
Staph skin infections are the most common, but Staph infections can affect other parts of the body too.
Signs you may have a Staph infection- symptoms:
1. Redness of skin in the growth of a pimple or blister. It will sometimes be swollen and painful.
2. Lymph nodes in the armpits, neck, or groin becoming swollen and/or tender
3. A patch of skin which has been scraped or cut turning sore, swollen, feeling hot, or producing pus.
4. Boils or other skin lumps
5. Peeling, blistering, or scaling of skin (most frequently in infants and young children)
Types of Staph Infections
If you have Folliculitis, you will notice tiny white-headed pimples appear at the base of hair shafts with perhaps a small red area around a pimple. This can happen as a result of shaving or when skin is rubbed and irritated by clothing.
A boil, or otherwise called a furuncle, is a swollen, red, and painful lump on the skin. This lump is usually filled with pus and grows larger and more painful until it ruptures and drains. These are usually found on the face, neck, buttocks, armpits and sometimes on the inner thigh area. If you have a cluster of furucles it is called a carbuncle. If you have a carbuncle you are usually ill and have a fever.
Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus, or MRSA, is a type of staph superbug that does not respond to antibiotics and is highly contagious. The seriousness of the infection and the fact that it is resistant to most antibiotics is what scares people. The fact that people die from MRSA skin infections alarms a lot of people including parents, school officials and community members.
Part of why people are afraid of MRSA is that you can become infected by having physical contact with someone who is already infected with MRSA. Another way to become infected with the MRSA skin infection is to come into contact with an object that was touched by someone with MRSA. Objects can be door handles, sinks, towels, bed linens, newspapers and books.
Young kids get impetigo, an infection of the superficial skin and usually occurs on the face, hands or feet. Impetigo usually starts out as a pimple or bump that then becomes a blister and then develops a light brown crust. Impetigo is highly contagious.
Staph infections on the eyelid are called hordeolum or stye. It is a red, warm, uncomfortable feeling and sometimes-painful swelling near the edge of your eyelid.
Washing the skin with an antibacterial cleanser and then applying an antibiotic ointment and covering the skin area with a clean dressing can treat most of these Staph infections at home.
If the skin infection should worsen, by becoming larger or getting very red and hot to the touch, you should see a doctor immediately. If the area is large and pus-filled it may need to be drained by a doctor.
How to Prevent Staph Infections:
Good hygiene is the best prevention. Wash your hands often, use a hand sanitizer and bath or shower daily.
Keep skin areas that have been injured, clean. Always wash cuts, scrapes, eczema or other rash areas and cover them to keep dirt and germs out.
If someone in your dorm or family has a Staph infection, do not share towels, bed linens or clothing with them.
Do not touch a Staph infection as this can help to spread it to other parts of your body.
Staph infections can take up to 20 days to heal without treatment. Receiving medical treatment will speed up the healing process.
You can soak the skin in warm water or apply warm washcloths to the area to help relieve pain. Acetaminophen can be taken 3 or four times a day to relieve pain. You can also take ibuprofen to reduce pain also.
Use a warm compress over the stye on the eye 3 or 4 times each day. It should disappear after a few days, if not see a doctor, for a topical ointment.
Photo: Fiona Pragoff /, Wellcome Images