Staph infections are caused by staphylococcus bacteria, types of germs commonly found on the skin, noses or other areas of the body. Most of the time, these bacteria cause no symptoms or infections and most individuals are just carriers. If staph germs enter into the skin through cuts, scratches or pimples, they can cause infections in the body that can affect the bones, lungs, blood or heart. Staph infections usually range from a simple boil to flesh eating infections. The difference between all the types of staph infections is how deep they go, how fast they spread and if the condition is treatable through antibiotics. Most individuals that are prone to this type of infection are those who have diabetes or a weak immune system. Treatment options for staph infections typically involve the use of antibiotics and drainage of the infected area.



Signs and symptoms of a staph infection include:

  • Open sore
  • A collection of pus (boil, furuncle or abscess)
  • Tenderness of the area at the site of the infection
  • Pain and swelling of the area at the site of the infection
  • Skin redness

More severe symptoms that can arise from a staph infection include:

  • Fever
  • Chills and sweats
  • Painful rash
  • Inflammation of the area at the site of the infection



Many healthy individuals carry staph on their skin, noses or other areas of the body. Staph bacteria are common and usually spread between individuals through close skin contact or by sharing contaminated objects, such as towels, toothbrushes, utensils or pillowcases. Even simply through coughing or sneezing, an individual may spread the bacteria to another person.

Staph bacteria are able to survive:

  • Drying
  • High temperatures
  • High levels of salt


Risk Factors

Several factors that can increase the risk of developing a staph infection include the following:

  • Skin scratches or cuts
  • Surgical wounds
  • Burns
  • Skin to skin contact
  • Injection of illegal drugs
  • Invasive devices
  • Participating in contact sports
  • Eating unsanitary food
  • Sharing contaminated objects (utensils, clothing, etc)
  • Weakened immune systems
  • Certain medical conditions (diabetes, cancer, kidney failure, HIV)
  • Certain medications



Complications that can arise if staph bacteria enter the bloodstream include:

  • Sepsis: An infection that attacks and can affect the entire body (bones, lungs, and heart)
  •  Septic shock: a life-threatening state that involves having extremely low blood pressure.



A few recommendations for preventing the development of a staph infection include:

  • Washing hands thoroughly after meals or after going to the bathroom
  • Taking showers/baths every day to keep skin clean
  • Keeping cuts and wounds covered to prevent bacterial infection
  • Avoiding eating foods that might seem unsanitary
  • Changing tampons frequency during menstruation
  • Avoiding sharing towels, sheets, clothing, utensils and other objects that might be contaminated
  • Washing clothing and bedding in hot water