The only way to make a definite identification of a staph infection is by seeing a medical care provider, according to the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. The doctor uses a cotton swab to take a sample from an open sore or rash, or he orders a blood or urine sample for laboratory testing. The lab tests identify the bacterial infection and help the doctor know the best type of antibiotic for it.
The term "staph" is short for Staphylococcus, a type of bacteria that can cause infections throughout the body. Many people carry this bacteria on their skin or in their noses and remain healthy. However, they can infect others when the bacteria enter a break in the skin, warns the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
Most staph infections are minor and remain in the skin. However, the infection can move deeper into the body, affecting the joints, bones, blood or organs. Some of these deeper infections are life-threatening, cautions the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is a type of staph that is difficult to treat. The normal antibiotics used to treat staph infections are not effective against MRSA, reports the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.