Staph infection

Skin | Dermatology | Staph infection (Disease)


Staph infections are caused by staphylococcus bacteria, a type of germ commonly found on the skin or in the nose of even healthy individuals. Most of the time, these bacteria cause no problems or result in relatively minor skin infections. But staph infections can turn deadly if the bacteria invade deeper into your body, entering your bloodstream, joints, bones, lungs or heart.

Staph infections can range from minor skin problems to endocarditis, a life-threatening infection of the heart valve lining. As a result, signs and symptoms of staph infections vary widely, depending on the location and severity of the infection.

Causes and Risk factors

Many people carry staph bacteria and never develop staph infections. These bacteria can also be transmitted from person to person. Because staph bacteria are so hardy, they can live on inanimate objects such as pillowcases or towels long enough to transfer to the next person who touches them.

If staph bacteria invade the bloodstream, a person may develop a type of infection that affects the entire body. Called sepsis, this infection can lead to septic shock — a life-threatening episode with extremely low blood pressure.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Treatment of a staph infection may include: antibiotics that sometimes prescribed to treat staph infections include cephalosporins, nafcillin or related antibiotics, sulfa drugs or intravenous vancomycin. Vancomycin increasingly is required to treat serious staph infections because so many strains of staph bacteria have become resistant to other traditional medicines. But vancomycin is effective for staph infections only when its given intravenously, wound drainage or device removal. ...