Symptoms of a Staph Infection
Because they can turn deadly without proper medical treatment, staph infections are serious health problems that demand quick responses. To make sure you get timely help for a troubling infection, learn how to recognize the telltale signs of staph.
What Causes an Infection?
Staph infections are caused by staphylococcus bacteria, an organism found in the nose and on the skin of many healthy people. Usually, these bacteria do not cause any noticeable problems. Sometimes, however, the bacteria can find its way deep within the body, where it invades the joints, bloodstream, lungs, bones or heart. When this occurs, infections can turn deadly.
Staph infections can cause minor skin issues or endocarditis, a deadly infection of the heart's inner lining. In turn, symptoms of a staph infection can vary, based on the severity and location of the infection.
When it affects the skin, staph may cause any of the following:
- Puss-filled boils
- Impetigo, a painful, contagious rash that usually includes blisters
- Cellulitis, an infection of the deeper skin layers, which causes redness, swelling and, in some instances, ulcers
- Staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome in which bacteria produce toxins that cause fever, a rash and sometimes blisters
Staph infections can also occur when people eat tainted food. Symptoms typically include diarrhea, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, and/or low blood pressure.
Other Types of Staph Infections
When staph bacteria travel into the body's organs, bacteremia or "blood poisoning" can occur. Staph can also cause septic arthritis, which can affect the knees, hips, shoulders and fingers or toes. Because these infections can be deadly or life-altering, it's important to get treatment for any signs of a staph infection before the bacteria can spread.
How Is Staph Treated?
Staph infections are treated with antibiotic medications. Sometimes, however, doctors also need to drain wounds to promote healing. Due to the growing risk of drug-resistant staphylococcus bacteria, it's important to take all of your antibiotics according to your doctor's recommendations. You should also seek medical attention immediately if you show any symptoms of a staph infection.