Staph, Golden Staph or Staphylococcus Aures is a bacterial skin infection that is (unfortunately) common in those with weakened immune systems (from HIV, poor diet, drug use and so on) and people who avoid showers like they the plague. Staphylococcus aureus—literally “Golden Cluster Seed”—is the most common cause of staph infections. It’s a spherical bacterium, frequently living on the skin or in the nose of a person. Approximately 20–30% of the general population are “staph carriers”.
Staphylococcus aureus can cause a range of illnesses from minor skin infections such as pimples, impetigo (may also be caused by Streptococcus pyogenes), boils, cellulitis folliculitis, furuncles, carbuncles (Learn how to get rid of carbuncles), scalded skin syndrome and abscesses, to life-threatening diseases such as pneumonia, meningitis, osteomyelitis endocarditis, toxic shock syndrome (TSS) and septicemia. Its incidence is from skin, soft tissue, respiratory, bone, joint, endovascular to wound infections. It’s still one of the four most common causes of nosocomial infections, often causing postsurgical wound infections.
Treatment of Staph Infection
Normal Staph Infection
- Antibiotics: Staph infection that isn’t antibiotic resistant can be treated in about a month (depending on severity) using antibiotics. When worse comes to worst, your doctor may prescribe a topical antibiotic to get rid of staph infection. Usually an over-the-counter topical antibiotic like Neosporin will do the trick, but with more serious infections, your doctor is likely to prescribe something stronger.
Traditionally, staph infections were treated with an oral antibiotic like penicillin, but because antibiotic-resistant strains are becoming more and more common, doctors have had to resort to stronger antibiotics with a broader spectrum of microbial control. In other words, go see a doctor if you think your impetigo is getting out of control—it could save you a trip to the intensive care unit. (For impetigo treatments, read how to get rid of impetigo)
- Compress: To help get rid of a minor staph infection, you may want to try a warm compress soaked in vinegar or rubbing alcohol. Vinegar has been shown to have plenty of antimicrobial power, so much so that conscientious janitors are now cleaning public restrooms with it. But when you really want to make sure those staph bacteria are gone, nothing beats good old rubbing alcohol. That’s why hospitals have those cans of alcohol-based hand cleaner just laying around the place—it’s almost 100% effective at killing bacteria.
- Washing the Infection: If you’ve been diagnosed with a staph infection, your doctor will tell you to wash the infected area several times a day. This goes beyond normal daily hygiene, and requires letting the soap and/or alcohol soak into the wound, redressing it afterwards with a loose piece of cotton gauze. Watchful attentiveness is probably the least toxic, drug-free way to get rid of this illness.
- Folliculiis Treatment: If you’ve come down with a case of folliculitis—a superficial infection of a hair follicle—staph or strep bacteria are the usual culprits, but the preventions and treatments remain the same:
- Wash with soap and warm water regularly.
- Treat the infected area(s) with warm compresses soaked in alcohol or vinegar.
- Apply topical antibiotics if infection persists.
- See your family physician if the infection doesn’t improve within a few days.
- Boils and carbuncles seen on your back, face, neck and head should be treated by a medical professional immediately, because there’s a chance that the bacteria might spread to your spinal cord or your brain. It’s rare, but it happens. However, a boil will usually burst and heal on its own.
- Calendula Cream: Calendula cream is a naturally occurring antibiotic and anti-fungal cream derived from the Marigold plant (Calendula officinalis). It can be used to fight mild cases of impetigo, and is an excellent substitute for commercial antibiotic creams if you’re not into pharmaceuticals.
- Burdock Root: Burdock root comes in many forms: pills, powders, tinctures, fluid extracts and teas. For treatment of impetigo, 2-8 ml of burdock root tincture should be applied to a compress and wrapped around the infected area at least 3 times a day.
- Spica Prunellae Extract: Spica Prunellae Extract (Self-Heal) is an herb that’s showing great potential in studies and research, showing that it has broad antimicrobial activity. In other words, it’s been discovered that Self-Heal is an aptly named, naturally occurring antibiotic for staph infection treatment.
Antibiotic-resistant Staph Infection
- Non-β-lactam Antibiotics: Antibiotic resistance in S. aureus was almost unknown when penicillin was first introduced in 1943; indeed, the original petri dish on which Alexander Fleming observed the antibacterial activity of the penicillium mold was growing a culture of S. aureus. By 1950, 40% of hospital S. aureus isolates were penicillin resistant; and by 1960, this had risen to 80%.MRSA infections in both the hospital and community setting are commonly treated with non-β-lactam antibiotics such as clindamycin (a lincosamine) and co-trimoxazole (also commonly known as trimethoprim / sulfamethoxazole). Resistance to these antibiotics has also led to the use of new, broad-spectrum anti-Gram positive antibiotics such as linezolid because of its availability as an oral drug.
- Glycopeptide Antibiotics: First-line treatment for serious invasive infections due to MRSA is currently glycopeptide antibiotics (vancomycin and teicoplanin). There are a number of problems with these antibiotics, mainly centered around the need for intravenous administration (there is no oral preparation available), toxicity and the need to monitor drug levels regularly by means of blood tests.There are also concerns that glycopeptide antibiotics do not penetrate very well into infected tissues. This is a particular concern with infections of the brain and meninges and in endocarditis. Glycopeptides must not be used to treat methicillin-sensitive S. aureus, as outcomes and effectiveness are inferior compared to ‘normal’ infections.
Because of the high level of resistance to penicillins, and because of the potential for MRSA to develop resistance to vancomycin, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have published guidelines for the appropriate use of vancomycin. In situations where the incidence of MRSA infections is known to be high, the attending physician may choose to use a glycopeptide antibiotic until the identity of the infecting organism is known. When the infection is confirmed to be due to a methicillin-susceptible strain of S. aureus, then treatment can be changed to flucloxacillin or even penicillin as appropriate.
Prevention of Staph Infection
- Hygiene: The best way to prevent a staph infection or any superficial skin infection is to practice good hygiene, always. This is especially true in public places like schools, gyms and restrooms. Today, it’s almost impossible to avoid good hygiene with the availability of standalone, alcohol gel hygiene stations being installed in almost every public building that sees large amounts of human traffic. You may even want to pick up a bottle of alcohol gel hand sanitizer for your personal use. Oh, and don’t forget to take a shower once in a while.
- Avoid Contamination: Another good way to prevent a staph infection is to avoid sharing razors, towels or anything else that comes into contact with a person’s skin. Impetigo (staph infections) are extremely contagious. Just brushing against someone who’s infected is enough to transfer millions of bacteria.
In any case, now that you know most everything there is to know about staph and its growing resistance to antibiotics, you’ll be better prepared to handle it. Just remember to make good use of these tips regarding treatment and prevention before it’s too late. If you enjoyed reading this article, you’ll surely be interested in reading how to prevent infection too.
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