Signs and symptoms of a staph infection
"Staphylococcus aureus is a bacteria that lives on everyone's skin," says Dr. Tina Tan, who specializes in infectious diseases. Staph aureus can cause infections, with soft tissue skin infections being the most common type of staph infection seen in the community.
These organisms may be transmitted to inanimate surfaces such as countertops, furniture, gym equipment, etc., where they may live for long periods of time.
A person may become infected and outbreaks may occur when they touch a surface that is contaminated with the Staph aureus organism. "Those individuals who have a break in their skin such as a cut or scrape are more at risk to get a staph infection. The staph can potentially enter in to the break in the skin and cause an infection," Tan says.
Staph infections happen frequently and are generally not cause for huge concern.
Symptoms include redness and swelling of the skin that is painful, or the development of boils. A fever is normally not a symptom of a local staph infection of the skin.
The infection will not go away unless you treat it with antibiotics. "This is not something to panic about and it is easily treatable with antibiotics," Tan says.
"Parents and caregivers should monitor the areas that may be infected and if these areas seem to be getting larger, more red, or more painful, they should seek medical attention," Tan adds. "Most of these types of infections tend to be more localized and tend to stay on the skin or infect the soft tissue and aren't systemic."
The best course of action to prevent the spread of staph is to disinfect the surfaces where staph is suspected to be "sitting" as well as hand-washing after coming in contact with surfaces such as doorknobs, exercise equipment, etc.
• Children's health is a continuing series. This week's article is courtesy of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.