Skin infections are commonly caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 30% percent of people already carry this bacteria in their noses. While most of the time this bacteria is somewhat harmless, a slight infection can easily develop into a more serious infection that could require medical attention. In some cases, the bacteria can go deep into the body affecting the bones, joints, bloodstream, heart valves, or lungs.

Common forms of Staph infections include:

  • Impetigo – Commonly found in children, this form of skin infection is caused by staph bacteria that may get into an open cut, scrape, or insect bite. Red sore-like pimples will appear and will be filled with pus, and may break open. This can cause a thick crust to form around the sore. Symptoms include itching, but scratching should be discouraged as this may cause the sores to spread to other parts of the body.
  • Cellulitis – This form of skin infection can form on any part of the body, but usually affects the lower extremities. Cellulitis will appear warm to the touch and can be contracted at the site of a cut or scrape that comes into contact with the bacteria. You should see a doctor immediately if you suspect you have cellulitis because it can spread quickly to other parts of the body.


Another, more difficult to treat, form of a staph infection is MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus), named as such due to resistance to the class of antibiotics typically used to treat staph infections. You can come into contact with the bacteria almost anywhere, but it is most commonly contracted in situations where people come into close contact with others. This could mean hospitals or nursing homes where people might have compromised immune systems, or are more at risk for developing infections. MRSA may also be contracted through close skin to skin contact during activities like school sports, such as wrestling or football, or even from commonly shared gym equipment.

You may have MRSA if you develop a swollen looking bump or pimple. The bumps are usually painful, and may feel warm to the touch. These bumps are typically filled with pus, or other drainage. You also may experience a fever.

How can you prevent contracting MRSA?

Follow these tips:

  • Wash your hands – Handwashing is always an important step in preventing illness, and is helpful to eliminate bacteria that comes into contact with your skin. Not only does handwashing remove the bacteria from your own hands, it can also help prevent the further spread of germs. If you need tips on the proper procedure for cleaning your hands, you can visit our website.
  • Address open wounds – always follow proper first-aid procedures when it comes to open wounds, cuts, or scrapes. Keep any exposed skin covered with an adhesive bandage when not cleaning or dressing the wound. This will prevent any bacteria you come into contact with from directly infecting your wound.
  • Don’t share – There are some occasions when it is acceptable to not want to share. Keeping your personal items personal can help prevent you from contracting some types of infections. This means you should be cautious about whether anyone else uses your razors, sheets, bars of soap, towels, or athletic equipment.
  • Favor cleanliness – Be sure to shower immediately after using shared gym equipment. This includes machines, but also mats, lockers, and jerseys. Also be sure that you are showering in a clean shower!
  • Wipe it down – Be sure to regularly clean any equipment with proper cleaning products, or soap and hot water. Use a cleaning spray on any equipment before and after using it. As for clothing, it is important to use heat to help kill germs. Towels and clothing should be put in a dryer after washing.

When to see a doctor?

If you notice any symptoms of MRSA, you should see your health care provider as soon as possible. In most cases, MRSA is easy to treat and symptoms will begin to improve as quickly as 24 hours after administration of medication. In some cases, a person with a MRSA infection may need to be hospitalized. If left untreated, a MRSA infection runs the risk of progressing to sepsis, which is a potentially deadly complication.

What kind of treatment is there for MRSA?

Unfortunately, the strain of bacteria that causes MRSA is often resistant to the form of antibiotics usually used to treat other staph infections. There are, however, other antibiotics that are able to target MRSA. Usually these antibiotics can be taken orally. Your doctor will likely perform an exam, and any necessary testing needed to diagnose MRSA. In some cases, your doctor might need to drain any boils or abscesses, depending on the severity of the infection.

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