Everything You Need to Know About Staph Infection

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Staphylococcus bacteria or staph, as it is known in short, is responsible for causing Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus-MRSA-infection. This infection does not respond to most antibiotics. These bacteria can be found in the nose and also on the skin and they are generally harmless. However, the problem starts when they increase in number and become too many. This can lead to an MRSA infection. You can get infected when your skin breaks or gets cut and the bacteria invades the area.

MRSA is an infectious disease. You can get it if you are in contact with someone who has been infected or you touch a surface or object that an infected person was in contact with. A MRSA infection can be quite severe. The good news is that it can be treated with antibiotics.

MRSA Types

MRSA infections are divided into two categories: community-acquired and hospital-acquired.

HA-MRSA. Hospital-acquired (HA-MRSA) are generally contracted at healthcare centers, such as clinics or nursing homes. You can get it when you come in contact with infected surgical tools that have not been properly sanitized, infected bed linens or infected hands or infected open wounds. HA- MRSA can lead to many complications, such as pneumonia and blood infections.

CA- MRSA. You can get community-acquired MRSA (CA-MRSA) through direct contact with an infected person or with an infected cut. This usually comes about as a result of not practicing good hygiene, for instance, failing to wash your hands frequently.

HA-MRSA Symptoms

If you have HA- MRSA, then you are likely to get a lot of complications, such as pneumonia, sepsis and bladder infections. Here are the signs that you have HA- MRSA:

  • Muscle pain
  • Rash
  • Pain in the chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • High body temperature
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain

Consult a medical doctor if you notice the signs above.

CA-MRSA Symptoms

When you get CA- MRSA, you are likely to get infections on your skin. This is particularly in areas where there are open cuts or in areas where you have lots of hair, such as under your arms. This is because the skin in these areas has been damaged, making it easy for the bacteria to find its way into your body.

When you get infected, you will observe that the infected area will get swollen, red and painful. The swelling resembles an insect bite or a pimple. The center of the swelling will be white or yellow with a head in the middle of it. Rashes will appear around the swollen area and the place will feel warm. This is what is referred to as cellulitis. Pus might even ooze out of the infected area and your body temperature might spike.

Here are some skin conditions that come about as a result of a staph infection:

Boils. You can find boils under your armpits, around the pubic area or buttocks. Boils often develop in a hair follicle or where an oil gland is. When you get it, the affected area will swell and get filled with pus.

Cellulitis. This infection affects layers that are under the skin. When you have it, the affected area will be red and swollen and ooze fluids.

Impetigo. This is an infectious rash that is painful. It is characterized by big blisters that are filled with pus. The blisters might eventually have a crust the color of honey.

Staphylococcal Scalded Skin Syndrome. It’s mostly kids who get this condition. This condition is characterized by a high body temperature, rash, and blisters in some cases. Once the blisters burst, the skin layer will peel off; leaving red, raw skin that might look like it got burnt.

Food Poisoning

In case you eat contaminated food, staph bacteria might be responsible for you getting food poisoning. In most cases, symptoms of food poisoning will start showing as soon as you have eaten the bad food. Symptoms will also disappear just as fast, such that you might get affected for only half a day.

In case your food poisoning is as a result of staph infection, here are the signs that you will most likely exhibit:

  • Feeling queasy and throwing up
  • Low blood pressure
  • Passing out loose watery stool frequently
  • Dehydration

Blood Poisoning

Blood poisoning is also referred to as septicemia. This happens when the staph bacteria finds its way into your blood. Symptoms of Septicemia include low blood pressure and high body temperature.

When bacteria gets deep into your body, you will get a severe infection that will affect:

  • Vital body organs such as the heart, brain, and lungs
  • Muscle and bone
  • Any artificial devices that you might have been fitted with, such as a cardiac pacemaker and synthetic joints

Toxic Shock Syndrome

This is a deadly disease that is brought about by toxins emitted by some kinds of staph bacteria. For instance, there are some tampons, cuts or surgical operations that can lead to this condition. This condition happens abruptly and is characterized by the following signs:

  • High body temperature
  • Being disoriented
  • Feeling woozy and throwing up
  • Muscle pain
  • Stomachache
  • Rashes on your feet and hands that look like sunburn
  • Diarrhea

Septic Arthritis

Arthritis can turn septic when you get infected by staph bacteria. This will mostly affect your knees, shoulders, toes, hips, and knees and also fingers.

Signs of this infection are:

  • High body temperature
  • Inflamed Joints
  • Joint pain in the affected area

Who Can Get MRSA?

There are several elements that affect the possibility of you getting infected.

For HA-MRSA these include:

  • If you have recently been admitted to hospital
  • If you need hemodialysis on a regular basis
  • In case your immunity is low because you have another disease
  • You stay at a nursing home

For CA- MRSA, you are in danger of getting this infection if:

  • You use exercise machines, towels, and blades that other individuals have used
  • You engage in contact sports
  • You work in a daycare
  • You live with many people or in an unhygienic environment

Diagnosing MRSA

To diagnose MRSA, the doctor will first begin by physically examining you and then asking about your medical history.

Here are the tests that you will have to undergo:

Wound Cultures. In this case, a sterilized cotton swab is used to collect samples from the cut. This is then analyzed in a laboratory to check for staph bacteria.

Sputum Cultures. Your sputum will be collected and then analyzed to check for staph bacteria and blood. It’s quite easy for you to provide a sputum sample if you are coughing. However, if you don’t have a cough, this can be a bit challenging to do. Therefore, you will have to undergo bronchoscopy or respiratory lavage for the phlegm to be removed from your lungs. This is done with the use of a thin tube that has a camera on one end. The tube will be passed into your mouth and then lungs for a fluid sample to be collected.

Blood Cultures. A blood sample is first obtained and then the bacteria within it are allowed to grow in a laboratory for a couple two days. If the test is positive, then this is a sign that you have sepsis. Sepsis is a blood infection. There are so many ways in which bacteria can get into your body. It can be through your lungs, bladder or even bones.

Urine Cultures. In order to obtain a urine sample to be taken to the lab for testing, you will be asked to pee in a sterilized cup. The midstream pee is what needs to be captured. Alternatively, a catheter can be inserted into your bladder to enable urine collection.

MRSA Treatment

Your treatment plan will largely depend on whether you have hospital acquired or community-acquired MRSA.

HA-MRSA. Hospital-acquired MRSA can be fatal. The antibiotics required to treat this infection will be administered through an IV. This can be done for a lengthy period of time-based on how bad the infection is.

CA-MRSA. In case you have community-acquired MRSA, then you can get better by just using oral antibiotics. In case a big part of your skin has been affected, then the doctor can opt to cut open the infected area and drain out the pus. This can be done in the doctor’s office and local anesthesia used. In case this is the option that the doctor goes for, then there will be no need for you to get antibiotics. The wound will be completely drained.

How to Prevent MRSA?

Here are some things that you can do to greatly minimize your chances of getting MRSA and spreading it to other people.

Clean your hands frequently. This is one of the most basic things that you can do to protect yourself. Scrub your hands for about 15 seconds before you towel dries them. The using another towel, turn off the tap. Alternatively, use a hand sanitizer that consists of 60% alcohol to clean your hands whenever you cannot get soap and water to wash your hands. Therefore, carry this sanitizer around.

  • Cover Any Cuts: This greatly minimizes chances of the area from getting infected in case you get in touch with infected areas or people.
  • Avoid Sharing Your Personal Effects: This includes things like razor blades, towels, bed linens and even sports equipment.
  • Disinfect Your Bed Sheets: In case you have broken skin, make sure to disinfect your bed linens. Wash them in hot water and use lots of bleach. Make sure to clean your gym clothes every time you use them. Use high heat when drying the clothes in the dryer.

In order to contain hospital-acquired MRSA, people who have these infections are usually separated from other people. This is done until they get better. Any healthcare professional that takes care of you has to be quite careful and observe good hand washing methods. In addition, the healthcare personnel also have to wear protective garments, so as minimize the risk of getting in touch with any infected surfaces. Any surface that has been infected or linens should be thoroughly disinfected.

How Doctors Treat MRSA?

In case your child is infected, it’s vital that you get urgent care to prevent the disease from spreading to other parts of the body. It can spread to the blood and lungs and result in pneumonia. Doctors will usually prescribe oral as well as topical antibiotics to help deal with the infection.

In case the doctor tries amoxicillin and penicillin and you fail to respond to treatment, then they can try out other antibiotics. This includes antibiotics like sulfamethoxazole, trimethoprim, and clindamycin.

In addition to the above antibiotics, topical antibiotics like rifampin can be prescribed. The prescription given will depend on how bad the infection is. In case the child has recurrent MRSA, the doctor might prescribe both antibiotics.

Once you start the antibiotics, it is important that you complete the whole dose. This is even if you improve and feel better. This ensures that most of the bacteria are destroyed in the body. It also minimizes the chances of the antibiotics becoming less effective in the child when they are next used.

Apart from oral antibiotics, the doctor will also give topical antibiotics. These are usually in the form of creams. This includes creams like Bactroban (mupirocin). In order to treat MRSA, you will be required to apply Bactroban in your nostrils.

According to doctors, it is important that the entire family of the person with an infection also use Bactroban. To use it, apply some of it on a swab of cotton wool and then swab the inside of your nostrils. Do this two times in a day for five days.

You can apply Bactroban directly on the cut area. You first need to clean the area and then dry it. Then apply the cream on the area using a swab of cotton.

How to Treat MRSA at Home?

When a person has MRSA, it means that the bacteria have greatly increased in number on the skin. These bacteria will probably have been spread to other surfaces on the home too.

When you treat MRSA at home, your main goal should be to get rid of as much of these bacteria as possible. Once you have minimized the bacteria in your home, there will be a reduced risk of the person getting re-infected or other people getting infected.

Here’s how to minimize the bacteria in your house:

  • Cut your child’s fingernails, so that they are always short. It minimizes the bacteria stored under the nails. It also reduces the chances of the child scratching themselves.
  • Clean your towels and washcloths every time you use them.
  • Clean your bed sheets linens at least once in seven days in hot water. Make sure to dry them in the highest possible hot setting.
  • Use chlorhexidine soap when bathing your child. Alternatively, you can add a bit of bleach to the bath water. Add it in the ratio of one teaspoon of bleach to one gallon of water. The aim of this is to get rid of as much MRSA bacteria as possible that might be in the skin of the child. In case your child has dry skin or eczema, then these solutions might not work for you, as these agents can be quite drying to the skin.
  • Cleanse any cuts or lesions with antibacterial soap. Use a clean bandage to cover these areas until they completely heal.

Instruct your child not to share their personal effects with other people. This includes not sharing stuff like:

  • Clothes
  • Towels
  • Combs
  • Makeup
  • Razor blades
  • Brushes

Home Remedies for Staph Infection

Here are some of the things you can do at home, so as to accelerate the healing process and prevent the infection from spreading.

Here are the best 10 remedies for this infection:

Tea Tree Oil. Tea tree oil is quite effective in treating staph infection since it has anti-inflammatory properties. It is also an antimicrobial. It provides relief from the skin discomfort caused by staph.

The 2004 American Journal of Infection Control published an article about tea tree oil. In the article, it was stated that tea tree oil was an antimicrobial that can be used to treat open cuts and Staphylococcus aureus.

Get a cotton swab and moisten it with two to three tablespoons of tea tree oil. Apply this on the affected area and leave it there for a couple of hours before rinsing it off.

Or, you can mix one teaspoon of aloe vera gel with a couple of drops of tea tree oil and organic honey. Dab this on the infected area and then wash it off after some hours.

Use any of these options at least once or two times in a day until you are completely healed.

Note that tree tea oil should not be orally consumed due to the side effects that it can have.

Apple Cider Vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is known for its anti-inflammatory characteristics and ability to kill bacteria.

Since it kills the bacteria, it accelerates the healing process. It also helps to strengthen your immunity and prevent reinfection.

Combine organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar with clean water in the ratio of 1:1. Then apply this mixture on the infected area. Do this two times a day every day until you get better.

You can also mix organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar with one glass of warm water and drink up the resulting mixture. You can also add some organic honey in the mixture. Drink this twice a day daily.

Manuka Honey. New Zealand produces a kind of natural, raw honey that is known as Manuka honey. This honey has antibacterial properties that keep staph infection under control. This honey accelerates wound healing and gets rids of the infection.

  • Smear the Manuka honey on the open cut.
  • Leave the honey on the area for a couple of hours then rinse it off.
  • Do this multiple times a day until you feel better.

Garlic. Garlic has antibacterial properties that help to get rid of the bacteria causing Staph infections. It greatly minimizes the symptoms and discomfort that is experienced. Moreover, it boosts your immune system.

  • Sanitize the wound then pour garlic oil on it and keep it covered with a bandage. Leave the bandage on for a few hours then take it off. This should be done at least two times in a day every day.
  • Use lots of garlic in your recipes. You can also chew or swallow garlic cloves before you eat anything first thing in the morning.
  • You can also use garlic supplements. But only start using the supplements after you have consulted your doctor about it.

Turmeric. Turmeric is an antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. This accelerates the healing of wounds and helps you to recover successfully from the infection. Turmeric also helps to strengthen your immunity.

Smear turmeric directly on the affected area. Do this at least two times in a day. This will minimize the symptoms experienced.

Make turmeric tea by mixing one tablespoon of turmeric with four cups of water and then let it boil. Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes, sieve and then drink it two to three times a day.

Alternatively, take turmeric supplements.

Oregano Oil. Oregano oil has antibiotic features. It is as effective as medicinal antibiotics and can significantly fight off staph infection.

The Journal of Medical Microbiology published a study in 2007. In the research, they found out that oregano oil was effective against Staphylococcus epidermidis and Staphylococcus aureus.

  • Mix 8 to 10 drops of oregano oil with two tablespoons of olive oil or any other essential oil. Smear it on the cut and leave it on for a couple of hours before rinsing it off. Do this a number of times in a day.
  • Combine 5 drops of oregano oil with one glass of fruit juice or water. Drink this two times in a day for a week.

Note that if you are pregnant, you shouldn’t use oregano oil.

Echinacea. Echinacea is an herb that has anti-inflammatory characteristics. It is also an anti-microbial and helps to stimulate the immune system. It is great for minimizing symptoms and accelerating healing. This makes it quite good for dealing with a staph infection.

A research published in the Phytomedicine journal in 2010 highlighted the fact that Echinacea can be used to manage respiratory infections caused by bacteria.

  • Get Echinacea cream and smear it on affected areas multiple times a day.
  • Make Echinacea tea and have a cup or two in a day.
  • Take Echinacea supplements after talking to a medical doctor.

In case you have an autoimmune disease, then do not use Echinacea.

Coconut Oil. Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial features. It also consists of lauric acid and medium chain fatty acids. It can also help calm down any discomforts you might have on your skin.

Apply pure coconut oil on the infected area and rub it into the skin. Wash it off after a couple of hours. Reapply it again a multiple times in a day.

You can also drink a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil.

Goldenseal. Goldenseal is great for treating open cuts due to its antiseptic and antibacterial features. Goldenseal has a component known as berberine that is effective for dealing with bacterial infections. It is also great for boosting the immune system.

  • Mix one to two tablespoons of Goldenseal in a cup of warm water.
  • Let it sit in water for 20 minutes and then sieve it
  • Apply the solution on a swab of cotton wool then apply it on the affected area.
  • Do this two or three times in a day until you get better.

Eucalyptus Oil. This oil has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties; therefore it can be used to treat Staphylococcus aureus and other bacterial infections that have become resistant to antibiotics.

In an article that was published in the 2010 edition of Phytomedicine journal, eucalyptus oil has synergistic properties that are quite good at fighting against pathogens that have become resistant to antibiotics.

Mix a couple of drops of eucalyptus oil with olive oil or any other carrier oil, then smear this mixture onto open cuts, leave it on for a couple of hours and then rinse it off.

Helpful Tips

  • Put a warm compress over boils, so as to speed up the boil ripening process.
  • Avoid touching areas where the skin is open, so as to speed up the recovery process
  • Keep yourself as clean as possible, so that the infection does not spread to other areas
  • Always wash your hand first before you touch food. Alternatively, you can use a hand sanitizer.
  • Cover open cuts with sanitized bandages until they heal
  • Do not use your personal effects with other people, like towels and bed sheets.
  • Do your laundry and wash your bed sheets on a regular basis and dry them in the sun

Signs That You Have Staph Infection in Your Nose

You can find Staph bacteria just about anywhere. In fact, you can find lots of newborns have these bacteria within the first week of birth. In addition, 70 to 90% of adult’s nasopharynx is colonized by these bacteria and 20 to 30% of grownups have Staph in their noses most of the times. This is according to Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. Just because you have the bacteria does not necessarily mean that you will get infected. But, you should realize that there is a difference between colonization and infection. If you have Staph in the nose, most of the symptoms you will experience will be in other parts of your body and not necessarily the nose.

Local Symptoms

 In case your nose has been colonized by S. aureus, it does not mean that you will get an infection or symptoms in your nose. Nasal infections are usually a result of other secondary infections like cold or flu, swelling or irritation or any trauma that might have happened to the nose and affected the nasal membranes. This causes the S. aureus bacteria to penetrate the local tissues and increase in number. This can provoke an immune response.

In case you notice that your mucus is green or yellow in color, it means that an immune response has been activated in your system. You might also experience a stuffy nose, painful throat, high body temperature and pain in the nose. In case the inflammation gets worse, it can affect your sinuses.  This will result in headaches, chills, and pressure where your sinus cavities are situated.

Distant Skin Symptoms

 If you have S. aureus in your nose, you will experience symptoms on your skin on other parts of your body. This includes getting pimples, cellulitis, boils, impetigo, and carbuncles. This can be on your face, on the upper part of your back, on your neck and chest. Boils tend to be painful. A carbuncle is lots of boils developing around the same place. As a result of this, the cells around the area end up dying and they create a drainage tract. S. aureus can also cause swelling on soft or connective tissues. This can result in pus forming in the area. They are painful and you will need to drain them. The ones that form around the anus area are referred to as a Perianal abscess. You can get impetigo when you have a cut on your skin and then S. aureus from the nose gets in contact with that area. This results in itchy wounds forming on the area.

Invasive Disease Symptoms

S. aureus can cause invasive diseases that can be fatal. This includes diseases like pneumonia, Scalded skin syndrome, meningitis, osteomyelitis, otitis media, toxic shock syndrome, sepsis, bacteremia, and endocarditis. Pneumonia affects your lungs and causes coughing and fever. Toxic shock syndrome affects women when they use tampons that are very absorbent. Meningitis affects the lining of the brain and osteomyelitis is when the bone gets infected. Otitis media occurs when the internal part of the ear situated just behind the eardrum gets affected. Scalded skin is a rash that is red in color that leaves the skin looking like it has been burnt by hot water.

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