Staph Infection of the Skin

Staph bacteria (Staphylococcus) can often live harmlessly in or on an individual for a long time. When that bacteria gets transmitted to another person, however, it can cause an infection, which often occurs on or just below the surface of the skin. Although it is easily treatable, there are also many ways to prevent staph infection of the skin from occurring altogether.

Definition of Staph Infection of Skin

According to the Australian HealthDirect website, "Skin staphylococcus... infections are a range of staph infections specifically affecting the skin." They are mostly caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, although there are more than 30 types of staph bacteria. As stated by the National Library of Medicine, "Skin infections are the most common" type of staphylococcus infection.

Signs of Staph Infection on the Skin

Different types of staph infections cause various signs and symptoms. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, two of the most common signs of a staph infection on the skin include:

  • Abscesses— Pus-filled pockets that swell.  They are often red and painful and may burst and ooze pus
  • Cellulitis—Bacteria present in the underlying layers of skin, usually on the legs or arms. Causes swelling, redness, and pain
  • Boils, which are similar to abscesses but generally smaller, can also be a sign of this condition.
  • Another common symptom is a rash or impetigo, which is usually red, scaly, and contagious. Impetigo can also ooze fluid and cause a yellowish crust to form over the outbreak. If you notice any of these signs on a particular part of your body, it is likely that you are suffering from staph skin infection.

Transmission of Staph Infection of the Skin

It is quite easy to transmit a staph infection to another person, especially when it is skin-related. Sports like soccer, football, martial arts, and boxing are a significant cause of this type of issue because individuals are sweating and coming into contact with others often. A person who is a carrier of the bacteria could spread it to another individual, causing an infection. Transference can also happen when someone infected with staph does not clean the gym equipment they use. The bacteria gets picked up by the next person using the machines. Personal items like brushes, combs, and razors are often carriers of the bacteria. Sharing toiletries can create problems. The bacteria can also get transmitted through a sore or cut that already exists on an individual. The best way to protect yourself from having it transferred to you is to be cautious.

Preventing a Staph Skin Infection

There are numerous ways to avoid this issue from occurring, even if you do play many sports or visit the gym frequently.

  • Make sure to wipe down the equipment you use at the gym before and after use.
  • Wash your workout and sports clothes regularly.
  • Shower and wash your hands frequently.
  • Keep any open sores or cuts clean and covered.
  • Do not share personal items with another individual, especially if you do not know him or her well.
  • Take extra precautions if you have recently left the hospital, have a weakened immune system, or have a medical device or tube in your body.

Recognizing Skin Staph Infections

Preventing these conditions can be done, but it is essential to be able to know when you have contracted a staph infection of the skin. They are typically easy to treat, but you should consult a doctor if you believe you have contracted one of these conditions.