How to Recognize Staph Infection Symptoms
Staph infections are caused by bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus and are usually easy to treat.
Skin infections are the most common type of staph infection, and often occur when a burn or wound gets contaminated.
Fortunately, many infections are minor and heal quickly if you keep the area clean and bandaged. However, you should see a doctor if symptoms worsen or if you develop a fever. While uncommon, staph bacteria can spread to the bloodstream and cause serious medical issues. Prompt treatment can prevent these serious infections from becoming life-threatening.
Method One of Three:
Diagnosing and Treating Skin Infections
Look for pimples, boils, or areas of red, swollen skin. Skin infections are the most common type of staph infection. They look like pimples, boils, blisters, or areas of swollen, red skin that feels hot. Sometimes, they ooze pus or other discharge.
Broken skin is prone to infection. Washing your hands frequently and keeping wounds clean are the best ways to prevent a skin staph infection.
Check for abscesses, or pockets of pus. Abscesses are swollen pockets of skin that are filled with pus. They feel like they’re filled with liquid, rather than a lump of swollen skin, and it usually hurts to touch them. Abscesses that grow increasingly painful and pus seeping from a wound could indicate a bad infection, so call your doctor if you notice these signs.
Wash your hands before and after touching the area. Wash up thoroughly with soap and hot water before you clean the area or change a bandage. You wouldn’t want to risk contaminating it further. After treating the infected skin, wash your hands again to prevent spreading germs.
Soak a minor infection 3 times per day and keep it bandaged. Minor abscesses and skin infections often go away on their own with proper home care. Wash the infected area thoroughly, soak it in warm water for 10 minutes 3 times a day, and cover it with a sterile bandage. Change the bandage 2 to 3 times daily or whenever it gets wet.
If you’d like, you can add salt to your warm water soaks. Try soaking the infected area in a solution of 1 tablespoon (14.8 ml) of salt and 1 US quart (0.95 L) of warm water. Adding salt to your warm water soaks can help soothe your skin. While salt doesn’t kill staph bacteria, it could help deter other contaminants.
Don’t attempt to drain an abscess on your own. Avoid touching an infection unless you’re treating it. Remember to wash your hands before and after providing treatment. If you have an abscess, leave it alone and don’t try to drain or pop it.
Scratching an infection or popping an abscess could further contaminate the area and spread germs.
See your doctor promptly if you have signs of a serious skin infection. Minor swelling or redness often go away on their own in a day or two, provided you keep the wound clean. However, if pain, swelling, or abscesses get worse, or if you have a fever, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
Only a doctor can accurately diagnose a staph infection and prescribe the appropriate treatment.
Keep the area covered with a sterile bandage until you can see a doctor.