What Causes a Staph Infection?

causes-staph-infection Credit: Universal Images Group Editorial/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Staph infections are caused by the staphylococcus bacteria, according to Mayo Clinic. While these bacteria are typically found in the nose and on the skin of healthy people, when they enter the skin, bones, joints, lungs, heart or bloodstream, they cause infection. Staph infections are treated with oral antibiotics; in some cases, drainage of the affected area is also necessary.

Staph infections have a wide variety of symptoms ranging in severity from a minor skin infection to a life-threatening infection that affects the heart or blood, notes Mayo Clinic. Common skin infections include boils, impetigo and cellulitis. Staph infections are also a leading cause of food poisoning, and in this case, result in nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration.

More serious staph infections include blood poisoning, or bacteremia, where the staph bacteria enters the bloodstream, according to Mayo Clinic. Once in the bloodstream, the staph bacteria can then travel to the bones, brain, heart or lungs, causing a life-threatening situation. Toxic shock syndrome and septic arthritis are two other forms of dangerous staph infections. Contact a doctor any time a staph infection is suspected, including when an area of red, painful skin or pus-filled blisters occur. If a fever is present in addition to symptoms of infection, seek prompt medical attention.