Staph Infection on Skin Symptoms, Causes and Treatments
Staphylococci or Staph is a very common bacteria which exist on the skin as well as mucous membranes (nostrils). Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is the one behind most of human diseases. Other staphylococci like S. epidermidis are commensals or normal inhabitants of skin surface.
Approximately 15-40% of healthy people carry S. aureus. It means they have the bacteria on their skin but no active disease or infection (colonization). The usual sites that the bacteria exist are flexures and nostrils and you can find them there intermittently or every time.
Even though, it might be considered harmless by many, S. aureus is still capable of triggering various types of infection on your skin as well as your organs. Infections from S. aureus are normal for people who often incur skin injury, especially the ones with dry skin. Staph infection on skin can be seen mostly on children prior to puberty as well as certain occupations like healthcare workers. However, the infection can happen for no specific reason to healthy people.
Most of the time, staph infections happen to normal people; however, it is the underlying illness as well as certain skin disease is the one that worsen the infection. Those might be:
- Severe atopic dermatitis
- Kidney failure, especially people who are on dialysis
- Poorly controlled diabetes
- Deficiency of iron
- Blood disorders such as lymphoma or leukaemia
- Intravenous drug users or alcoholism
- Presence of foreign objects inside the body such as indwelling catheter, pacemaker, prosthetic joint, haemodialysis or recent surgical procedure.
- Deficiency of immunoglobulin M
- Medication on systemic steroids, cytotoxics, retinoids or immunosuppressives
- Chronic granulomatous disease
- Chediak-Higashi syndrome
- Job and Wiskott Aldrich syndrome (related to severe staphylococcal infection with eczema, abnormal white cell function and increased immunoglobulin E)
The staphylococcal skin infection can be observed in various forms:
- Impetigo (school sores)
- Infections of hair follicles such as staphylococcal folliculitis, abscess, boil (carbuncles and furuncles) and sycosis (beard infection)
- Cellulitis (often because of streptococcus)
- Ecthyma (crusted ulcers)
- Mastitis (inflammation of breast) and breast abscess (bacteria might invade the milk from breast abscess)
- Secondary skin infection of scabies, dermatitis, wounds or diabetic ulcers etc.
- Staphylococcal hypersensitivity reactions like folliculitis decalvans (trigger scarring hair loss)
Also there are skin diseases which are caused by bacterial toxins such as:
- Toxic shock syndrome. This illness is unusual and it is resulted from the release of Toxic Shock Syndrome Toxin-1 (TSST-1) or enterotoxin B. Those toxins are superantigens as they are able to trigger massive inflammatory reaction. Having exposure previously will make the patient immune to those toxins so they will not incur second attack.
- Staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome (SSSS) is the one that often occurs on the under-5-year-old children as well as rarely happens to adults who have kidney failure.
- Staphylococcal scarlatina (scarlet fever)
- Also staphylococcal toxins might trigger food poisoning as well
In order to treat staph infections, there might need:
- Drainage of pus from infected area.
- Suitable antibiotics such as clindamycin, antibiotics cephalexin, amoxicillin/clavulanate
- Surgical procedure (debridement) to remove dead tissue (necrosis)
- Removal of foreign objects such as stitches which might be the cause of persisting infection
- Treatment for underlying skin diseases such as atopic eczema
Those are the brief information about staph infection on skin. However, it is recommended that you prevent staph infection as much as possible. The most efficient method is having your hands washed often, especially before and after contact the broken skin. Also it is essential to clear out the bacteria existing in the nostrils as well as under the fingernails using either petroleum jelly or antibiotic ointment such mupirocin or fusidic acid for few times every day in at least one week per month. Lastly, you can take a bleach bath for twice per week.
Read more: How to Clean your Face Naturally at Home