Staph infections are an extremely common condition in the United States, with more than 30% of the population colonized with the bacteria at any given moment. Staph infections can be passed from person-to-person in multiple ways, however, the most common way is through the nose. When the bacteria is carried through the nose, many do not show any physical symptoms. However, with that said, even if you do not feel sick, you are still able to infect and pass on the bacteria to those around you.
Though there are various forms of staph infections, the most common type is a skin infection, which typically displays itself as a pus-filled boil. The skin surrounding the infected area can also become red and swollen. If a boil appears on your skin and you are unsure of the cause, it is important to make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible, as it might be staph-infected.
Diagnosing a Staph Infection
First, if you have an area of skin that might be staph infected, your doctor will examine the lesion for any signs of infection. In order to confirm the diagnosis, most doctors will either conduct a tissue sample or check nasal discharge for signs of the bacteria.
Regimens for a Staph Infection
Once diagnosed with a staph infection, the treatment that you receive depends entirely on; the type of infection, the location, and the severity. Here are the most common treatments for a staph infection:
- Antibiotics: For most staph infections, antibiotics are the first treatment option many doctors will recommend. In order to determine which antibiotics suit you best, doctors will first identify the specific strain of staph bacteria that is causing your infection. Commonly prescribed antibiotics include sulfa drugs, nafcillin, vancomycin, and cephalosporins. When taking antibiotics, you have two options: you can either take it orally or through or within a vein. That being said, whether you take your antibiotics orally or intravenously, make sure that you are taking the medication prescribed to you as directed by your doctor. If you do not finish the medication, the infection will return. If while taking the prescribed antibiotics, your symptoms start to become worse, immediately contact your doctor so you can be prescribed another antibiotic treatment.
- Drain the Lesion: In order to increase recovery chances and relieve pressure, doctors will likely want to drain the sore. This is done by making an opening in the wound in an attempt to drain any fluid or pus that has built up over time.
- Device Removal: If your doctor has reason to believe that the infection has been caused by a medical device, for instance, a prosthetic, then surgery to remove the device will need to be scheduled as soon as possible.
Though antibiotics are the most common treatment option for staph infections, over the last several years, there has been an increasing problem of antibiotic resistance. What this means is that the staph bacteria has mutated and it is is no longer able to respond to the antibiotics that are normally prescribed to treat the infection. Today, penicillin, which is an antibiotic in the penicillin group of drugs that fights bacteria in your body, is only able to treat about 10% of staph infections. Therefore, many strains of staph have become completely resistant to one or more antibiotics.
Strains of staph infections that have become resistant to antibiotics are known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). In order to treat MRSA staph infections, doctors are now using alternative antibiotics, such as vancomycin. However, there is an issue that surrounds the use of these alternative medications and that is that they have to be given intravenously and there is also the risk of more side effects. Due to antibiotic resistance, these alternative antibiotics are prescribed for staph infections only if it is an absolute necessity to prevent any further resistance.
Featured Image: depositphotos/psphotography