It’s surprisingly – and unfortunately – easy to get a staph infection. Every person has staph bacteria on their bodies
Staphylococcus aureus (staph) is a type of bacteria that is commonly found on the skin of humans and animals. It can also be found in the nose, mouth, and other areas of the body. Staph is one of the most common causes of skin infections, and in some cases, it can cause more serious illnesses such as blood poisoning (sepsis) and toxic shock syndrome.
Staph bacteria are spread from person to person through contact, such as through skin-to-skin contact, sharing items that have come in contact with an infected person (such as towels, sheets, and clothing), or through contact with infected surfaces. People who are at an increased risk of getting a staph infection include those with weakened immune systems, those who have open wounds or sores, and those who have recently had surgery.
Staph infections can be treated with antibiotics, but some types of staph may have become resistant to certain antibiotics. In these cases, other treatments, such as draining the infected area or using topical medications, may be necessary. It is important to practice good hygiene and keep wounds covered with a bandage to help prevent the spread of staph.
It lives on the skin and in the mucous membranes. It’s supposed to be there and it doesn’t usually cause any problem. However, if it builds up too much or if it’s allowed to enter through a cut or abrasion in the skin, it can cause an infection. Most of these are small skin infections like pimples or boils, and they aren’t dangerous.
There are cases, though, where a staph infection gets out of hand, and people have died from it. Some staph, called MRSA, is resistant to antibiotics, and scientists and doctors worry that overuse of antibiotics for illness and also antibacterial soap for hand and body washing is driving some of the resistance that various bacteria are developing. There is no official proof of this, but there seem to be more people today who are having problems with staph infections, where this was not an issue in the past. Originally, any prevalence of staph infection at all was seen in hospitals where there are many sick people all in one space. It only makes sense that people there could get staph infections and that nurses and doctors could accidentally pass them along to other patients.
In recent years, there has been a disturbing new trend in staph infections, and that has doctors worried. These infections are being seen in young, healthy people who should not be getting them, such as athletes and the military. It’s believed that this is becoming more common because these people are in such close quarters with one another so much of the time and locker rooms or dorms can become infected quite quickly. Still, though, if these people are healthy, why are they getting these infections? It appears that the bacteria are getting stronger and are developing ways to get around the resistance that humans have naturally built up to them. It’s not a serious cause for alarm, but it’s worth paying attention to. The easiest and best way to avoid a staph infection is still the old standby – wash your hands.