A bacterium that is quite common and prevalent, called Staphylococcus, dwells on the skin and the mucous membranes of people. While Staphylococcus epidermis and a few other types of bacterium reside on the skin without causing any infection or disease (this type of bacterium is called the commensal bacterium) the Staphylococcus aureus (S.aureus) causes the staph skin infection.
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Though the S.aureus resides on the skin of humans without causing any disease for almost 40% of them, it has the potential to cause various skin infections. They are more prevalent in the nostrils.
The name originates from two Greek words Staphyle (meaning grapes) and Kokkos (meaning berries. Under a microscope, the Staphylococcus looks kike a bunch of berries or grapes.
The name Staphylococcus comes from the Greek staphyle, meaning a bunch of grapes, and Kokko, meaning berry, and that is what Staph bacteria look like under the microscope, like a bunch of grapes or little round berries.
Staph infection is more likely to occur if (a) the skin is dry and (b) if the person is prone to be injured often. It is thus more prevalent among small children and among health care workers who come in contact with the people who are infected by the bacterium. Other people who are at a higher risk are those.
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- With diabetes that is not easily controlled
- On dialysis
- Who indulge in substance abuse
- Suffering from low serum iron or malnutrition
- Suffering from lymphoma or leukemia
- Already suffering from atopic dermatitis
- With weakened immunity
- Suffering from auto-immune disorders like Wiskott Aldrich Syndrome or Chediak-Higashi syndrome
In general, problems caused by Staphylococcal bacteria can be listed as (1) Cellulitis – A disease that affects the skin and related tissues and causes inflammation, redness, and itchiness (2) Impetigo – an extremely infectious disease that causes blisters and sores that is more prevalent among pre-school children and (3) Ecthyma – an infection similar to Impetigo but affects layers deeper inside the skin, (4) Problems related to the hair follicle and so on.
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- An abscess full of pus appearing somewhere on the skin
- Inflammation and ruddiness of the affected area
- Low blood pressure
- Abnormally high body temperature
Skin problems caused by the S.aureus are very contagious. It can easily spread from person to person just by mere physical contact. Good hygiene and good practices of cleanliness can prevent the spread of bacteria quite effectively.
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As of today, a vaccine is yet to be found that can effectively cure skin infections. However, a hygienic lifestyle can bring down the risk of the illness. Here are some tips for the same.
- Antibiotics are prescribed along with an applying cream for treating the infected area
- Pus in a deeply wounded Staph infection is removed surgically and care is taken not to have a relapse of the infection
- When handling food, ensure that it is prepared and eaten in as clean a manner as possible
- Keep the skin Staph infection as clean as possible
- Refrain from coming in close proximity with people who already have the infection
- During menstruation change pads/tampons often