Staph. Infections

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Staphylococcus aureus is a major human pathogen that causes a wide range of clinical infections. It is a leading cause of bacteremia and infective endocarditis as well as osteoarticular, skin and soft tissue, pleuropulmonary, and device-related infections. This review comprehensively covers the epidemiology, pathophysiology, clinical manifestations, and management of each of these clinical entities. The past 2 decades have witnessed two clear shifts in the epidemiology of S. aureus infections: first, a growing number of health care-associated infections, particularly seen in infective endocarditis and prosthetic device infections, and second, an epidemic of community-associated skin and soft tissue infections driven by strains with certain virulence factors and resistance to β-lactam antibiotics. In reviewing the literature to support management strategies for these clinical manifestations, we also highlight the paucity of high-quality evidence for many key clinical questions.


Staph infections can range from minor skin problems to life-threatening illness. For example, endocarditis, a serious infection of the inner lining of your heart (endocardium) can be caused by staph bacteria. Signs and symptoms of staph infections vary widely, depending on the location and severity of the infection.

Skin infections

Skin infections caused by staph bacteria include:

Boils. The most common type of staph infection is the boil. This is a pocket of pus that develops in a hair follicle or oil gland. The skin over the infected area usually becomes red and swollen.

If a boil breaks open, it will probably drain pus. Boils occur most often under the arms or around the groin or buttocks.

Impetigo. This contagious, often painful rash can be caused by staph bacteria. Impetigo usually has large blisters that may ooze fluid and develop a honey-colored crust.

Cellulitis. Cellulitis is an infection of the deeper layers of skin. It causes redness and swelling on the surface of your skin. Sores or areas of oozing discharge may develop, too.

Staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome. Toxins produced by the staph bacteria may cause staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome. Affecting mostly babies and children, this condition includes a fever, a rash and sometimes blisters. When the blisters break, the top layer of skin comes off. This leaves a red, raw surface that looks like a burn.

Food poisoning

Staph bacteria are one of the most common causes of food poisoning. The bacteria multiply in food and produce toxins that make you sick. Symptoms come on quickly, usually within hours of eating a contaminated food. Symptoms usually disappear quickly, too, often lasting just half a day.

A staph infection in food usually doesn't cause a fever. Signs and symptoms you can expect with this type of staph infection include:

Nausea and vomiting



Low blood pressure


Also known as a bloodstream infection, bacteremia occurs when staph bacteria enter the bloodstream. A fever and low blood pressure are signs of bacteremia. The bacteria can travel to locations deep within your body to cause infections that affect:

Internal organs, such as your brain (meningitis), heart (endocarditis) or lungs (pneumonia)

Bones and muscles

Surgically implanted devices, such as artificial joints or cardiac pacemakers

Toxic shock syndrome

This life-threatening condition results from toxins produced by some strains of staph bacteria. The condition has been linked to certain types of tampons, skin wounds and surgery. It usually develops suddenly with:

A high fever

Nausea and vomiting

A rash on your palms and soles that looks like a sunburn


Muscle aches


Stomach pain

Septic arthritis

Septic arthritis is often caused by a staph infection. The bacteria often target the knees, shoulders, hips, and fingers or toes. Artificial joints may also be at risk of infection. Signs and symptoms may include:

Joint swelling

Severe pain in the affected joint



Most cases of cSCC are attributed to exposure to UV radiation from sunlight or indoor tanning equipment like tanning lamps and beds. Other potential causes include:

Genetics. Genetic factors seem to play a role in the development of cSCC. A 2015 study found that people with a family history of cSCC are about four timesTrusted Source more likely to develop it.

Smoking. People who smoke are more likelyTrusted Source to develop cSCC, especially on their lips. Smoking is the primary risk factor for developing lung cSCC and other non-small cell lung cancers.

Chemical exposure. Exposure to certain chemicals such as coal tar, paraffin, some petroleum products, and arsenic may contribute to cSCC development.

Radiation exposure. Undergoing radiation therapy slightly increases your risk of developing skin cancer in the part of your body that received treatment.

Immunosuppression. Immunosuppression contributes to the development of cSCC. For example, organ transplant recipients have a 65 to 250 timesTrusted Source higher risk of developing cSCC than people in the general population.

Severe burn scars and sores. cSCC can develop in severe burn scars, sores, or ulcers that have been on your body for many years.

Risk factors

Risk factors for cSCC include:

having fair skin

having light-colored hair and blue, green, or gray eyes

having long-term exposure to UV radiation

living in sunny regions or at a high altitude

having a history of multiple severe sunburns, especially if they occurred early in life

having a history of being exposed to chemicals, such as arsenic

having a history of immunosuppression

history of severe burn scarsTrusted Source, ulcers, or sores

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It is the leading cause of skin and soft tissue infections such as abscesses (boils), furuncles, and cellulitis. Although most staph infections are not serious, S. aureus can cause serious infections such as bloodstream infections, pneumonia, or bone and joint infections.


These commonsense precautions can help lower your risk of getting staph infections:

Wash your hands. Thorough hand washing is your best defense against germs. Wash your hands with soap and water briskly for at least 20 seconds. Then dry them with a disposable towel and use the towel to turn off the faucet. If your hands aren't visibly dirty or you aren't able to wash your hands, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Wash your hands with soap and water regularly, such as before, during and after making food; after handling raw meat or poultry; before eating; after using the bathroom; and after touching an animal or animal waste.

Keep wounds covered. Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with sterile, dry bandages until they heal. The pus from infected sores often contains staph bacteria. Keeping wounds covered will help keep the bacteria from spreading.

Reduce tampon risks. Toxic shock syndrome is caused by staph bacteria. Tampons left in for long periods can grow staph bacteria. You can reduce your chances of getting toxic shock syndrome by changing your tampon frequently — at least every 4 to 8 hours. Use the lowest absorbency tampon you can. Try to alternate tampons with sanitary napkins whenever possible.

Keep personal items personal. Avoid sharing personal items such as towels, sheets, razors, clothing and athletic equipment. Staph infections can spread on objects, as well as from person to person.

Wash clothing and bedding. Staph bacteria can spread on clothing, towels and bedding. To remove bacteria, wash and dry items at the warmest temperature recommended by the items' labels. It's OK if you can't use hot water, as using detergent in your wash is enough to make items clean and safe for use. You can use bleach on any bleach-safe materials.

Take food safety precautions. Wash your hands before handling food. If food will be out for a while, make sure that hot foods stay hot — above 140 F (60 C). Make sure that cold foods stay at 40 F (4.4 C) or below. Refrigerate leftovers as soon as possible. Wash cutting boards and counters with soap and water.