Staphylococcus infection


Staph infections are caused by the Staphylococcus bacteria, commonly found on the skin or in the noses of many healthy individuals. Typically, these bacteria do not cause any issues, or they might lead to minor skin infections. However, these infections can become severe if the bacteria penetrate deeper into the body, affecting the bloodstream, joints, bones, lungs, or heart. Such deep infections can be life-threatening, especially as an increasing number of healthy people are developing them.

Staphylococcal infections are treated primarily with antibiotics and thorough cleaning of the infected area. Nonetheless, there is a growing concern as some strains of Staphylococcus, especially Staphylococcus aureus, are becoming resistant to commonly used antibiotics. This resistance complicates treatment and necessitates the use of stronger antibiotics that may cause more significant side effects.

In the healthcare setting, providers often encounter severe cases of staph infections that can lead to serious complications and even death. These cases require careful management, including the use of specific antibiotics tailored to combat resistant strains, to prevent the escalation of the infection and safeguard patient health.


Staph infections, primarily caused by the bacterium Staphylococcus, can appear in various parts of the body and manifest through different symptoms. They are particularly common on the skin but can also infiltrate internal organs.

Symptoms of Staph Infections on the Skin:

  • Abscesses and boils: Painful sores with redness and swelling that form under the skin.
  • Cellulitis: A condition that makes the skin swollen, red, and painful, often affecting the tissue just under the skin.
  • Folliculitis: Pimple-like blisters that cause pain, forming under hair follicles.
  • Impetigo: Characterized by fluid-filled blisters that burst and leave a yellow or brown crust.
  • Staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome (SSSS): A serious condition causing widespread peeling of the skin, usually affecting infants and small children.

These infections typically start as tender, warm, red areas that may leak fluid or pus as they worsen, and could potentially become open wounds.

Symptoms of Staph Infections in the body:

  • Food poisoning: Symptoms include severe vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Mastitis: Common in breastfeeding individuals, this condition leads to inflammation, pain, and abscesses in the breast.
  • Septicemia: Also known as blood poisoning, it can result from Staph bacteria entering the bloodstream, causing fever and low blood pressure.
  • Toxic shock syndrome (TSS): A severe form of septicemia with symptoms like fever, muscle aches, and a sunburn-like rash.
  • Endocarditis: An infection of the heart’s inner lining, often presenting with fever, sweating, weight loss, and a rapid heart rate.

Transmission of Staph Infection:

  • Skin contact: Direct contact with infected skin or pus, or indirectly through contaminated items like towels.
  • Food poisoning: Through ingestion of contaminated food.
  • Toxic shock syndrome: Typically associated with prolonged tampon use, allowing bacteria to thrive and enter the body through small vaginal cuts.
  • Mastitis: Occurs when bacteria from a baby’s mouth enter a crack in the nipple, often exacerbated by infrequent breast emptying.
  • Endocarditis: Bacteria can enter the bloodstream from the mouth, particularly in individuals with poor dental health.

Understanding these modes of transmission can help in preventing the spread of Staph infections.


Staphylococcus bacteria, commonly referred to as staph, are often found harmlessly on the skin or inside the noses of many people. However, these bacteria can cause infections if they manage to breach the body’s protective barriers, typically originating from the bacteria the person has been carrying for some time.

Staph bacteria are highly resilient, capable of surviving on inanimate objects like pillowcases or towels, thus facilitating their transmission to others. Furthermore, these bacteria can cause illness either directly through infection or indirectly through the toxins they produce, demonstrating their adaptability by thriving under conditions such as extreme temperatures, dry environments, and exposure to stomach acid.

Risk factors

Your risk of contracting staph infections can be increased by a number of factors, such as the state of your immune system or the sports you participate.

  • Contact sports: Easily transmitted through cuts, scrapes, and skin-to-skin contact. In the locker room, staph infections can potentially proliferate through sharing towels, razors, clothes, or other equipment.
  • Existing health conditions: Staph infections can be more common in those with specific conditions or those treated with certain medications. A staph infection may be more common in those who have the following conditions:
    • Cancer, particularly in those undergoing radiation or chemotherapy
      Damage to the skin resulting from mild trauma, insect stings, or skin disorders like eczema
    • Diabetes.
    • HIV/AIDS or compromised immune systems, resulting from illnesses or drugs that compromise the immune system
    • Kidney failure that requires dialysis
    • Organ transplant
    • Respiratory diseases, such as emphysema or cystic fibrosis
  • Hospitalization: Staph bacteria remain in hospitals despite deliberate attempts to eradicate them, where they can infect those who are most vulnerable to infection. Those who have:
    • Burns
    • Surgical wounds
    • Weak immune systems

Hospital admissions may occasionally be subject to screening to check for the presence of Staph bacteria. In order to assist prevent infection and lessen the spread to others, treatment with the goal of eliminating the bacteria may be used.

  • Implanted devices: Medical tubing can introduce Staph bacteria into the body. These devices establish a connection between your body’s exterior and interior. Some instances are urinary catheters and intravenous catheters.

Furthermore, implanted devices attract staph bacteria, which grow on their surface and spread infection. Surgically implanted devices like cardiac pacemakers and artificial joints are among them.

  • Unsanitary food preparation: Unwashed hands can harbor staph bacteria, which food handlers can then spread to the food they are preparing. The meal contains bacteria that grow and release toxins that cause sickness. Bacteria can be eliminated by cooking. However, the meal still contains the toxins. Foods contaminated with staph bacteria don’t have a distinct flavor or appearance.