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Symptoms of a Staph Infection

Symptoms of a Staph Infection

A staph infection is caused by a genus of bacteria called Staphylococcus. These bacteria are commonly found on our skin, where they behave as commensal organisms. However, in case of suppressed immunity, they act as opportunistic pathogens, and induce various maladies. This article elucidates the various signs and symptoms that could indicate a staph infection.
HealthHearty Staff
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2018
Did You Know?
When viewed under a microscope, the Staphylococcus bacteria appear like a branch of grapes or berries. Hence, its name has been derived from the Greek words 'staphyle', meaning a bunch of grapes, and 'kokkos', meaning granule.

Staph infections are caused by bacteria belonging to genus Staphylococcus. These bacteria are round in shape ,and are usually found in an aggregated bunch. There are about 30 species of bacteria that fall under this genus, but the bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus is mainly responsible for causing various infections. These bacteria are naturally present in nose, genitals, mouth, feet, and along the entire surface of our skin. But the infection occurs when the concerned body part experience cuts, lacerations, or injuries. The bacteria enter the bloodstream through these openings, and then spread to other vital organs of the body, like, lungs, liver, intestines, and heart, and causes serious health problems. Thus the severity of the Staph infections ranges from a simple pus formation on the skin to a fatal disease. MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is a mutated "super-bug" form of staph, that is resistant to antibiotic drugs and severe and fatal infections and health disorders.
Signs and Symptoms of a Staph Infection
Staph infections range from a minor skin infections to major life-threatening diseases. Thus, the signs and symptoms are different in each case. Usually the symptoms of MRSA infection and other staph infections are similar. The health consequences caused are given below,
► Food Poisoning
► Skin Infection
► Blood Poisoning
► Toxic Shock Syndrome
► Septic Artthritis
► Osteomyelitis
► Pyomyositis
► Mastitis Mastitis
Food Poisoning
Staphylococcal food poisoning shows early symptoms. It is not a very serious ailment, and the patient recovers quite soon from the infection. This is not a contagious condition, and the symptoms can be seen 5 to 6 hours after consumption of contaminated food. The symptoms are listed below,
  • Nausea
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Cramps in stomach
  • Low blood Pressure
Skin Infections
  • Boils: These are red colored swollen pus like bumps that grow in hair follicles or the oil glands. These boils grow in groups and inflate, and form a cluster called carbuncle. They may drain yellow colored fluid or blood if they are broken.
  • Impetigo: They are transmittable bump like lesions that are red in color and are painful. They are crusty, with oozy fluid filled in them. They usually develop on the face. This condition is contagious.
  • Follicutis: They, like boils, occur in hair follicles (root of hair). The affected area is pink or red colored, and is filled with pus. The infection is usually quite deep, and may eventually develop into a boil.
  • Abscess: It is a cavity, that develops below the skin and is filled with pus. The lesion does not have any protruding head as in other lesions, but appears as a lump under the skin, and does not drain the fluid on its own.
  • Cellulitis: It is the infection of the deep dermal and subcutaneous layers below the skin. It causes the affected area to become, red, painful, inflamed, and blistered. Nausea and chills may also be experienced.
  • Scalded Skin Syndrome: it is the most grave type of skin infection, and affects neonates and infants below the age of five. It involves the release of a toxin that leads to blistering of the skin, giving rise to a scalded and blistered appearance. Other symptoms are painful skin, high fever, peeling of skin, and redness in affected area.
Blood Poisoning
It is also called bacteremia. It is caused due to the entry of the bacteria into the bloodstream of the patient. The chief symptom is fever. The bacteria may travel to other organs and cause further infections. The bacteria may also affect implanted devices, like pacemaker, artificial joints, etc,. The systemic symptoms caused through blood poisoning are:
  • Endocarditis: Infection to heart that can cause failure of heart.
  • Pneumonia: Formation of pus like structure in lungs, hampering their function.
Toxic Shock Syndrome
This is a fatal health condition that is developed due to the release and accumulation of bacterial toxins in the blood stream. It has been linked to the use of tampons, skin wounds, and surgery. It develops within a short time frame. The symptoms are as follows:
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sunburn like skin rashes
  • Muscle ache
  • Headache
  • High fever
  • Disorientation
Septic Arthritis
It is caused due to the infection of the joints. The symptoms include:
  • Swelling in joints
  • Pain in the affected joint
  • High fever
Osteomyelitis
It occurs when the infection penetrates the bones and proliferates within them. The symptoms include:
  • Sudden high fever
  • Pain in the bone
  • Inflammation and redness
  • Tenderness
  • Restriction of movement in the affected area
Pyomyositis
It is a condition where the muscles that support and help in the movement of a bone are infected. Indicative signs of this are:
  • Very high fever
  • Chills
  • Pain and swelling
  • Muscles feel soft due to presence of pus
Mastitis
This usually occurs in lactating mothers. During the course of breastfeeding, it is possible for the nipples to get damaged, and get infected. This can also occur in non-lactating women. The infection causes:
  • Red and inflamed breast
  • lump in the breast
  • Burning pain
  • Whitish or bloody nipple discharge
  • Flu-like symptoms
The symptoms vary with the organ that is affected and the strain of the infecting bacteria. Hence, one should consult a physician when he/she notices any of the above listed symptoms. These infections should not be ignored, and their timely treatment is essential.