Bacterial infections

How Do You Get A Staph Infection?

Nidhi Nangia
By Nidhi Nangia. Updated: June 17, 2020
How Do You Get A Staph Infection?

A staph infection is caused due to staphylococcus aureus, a type of bacteria generally present in your nose and on your skin. Commonly, it does not cause any problem, although it sometimes results in a minor skin infection. However, despite its commonality, it can turn deadly if it invades deeper inside your body and enters your heart, lungs, joints, bones and blood stream. Treatment can be done using antibiotics and by draining the infected area. Unfortunately, a staph infection may not even respond to antibiotics. To stop this happening, it is important to find out how do you get a staph infection, so that you can prevent it happening. This oneHOWTO article provides comprehensive information on the subject.

You may also be interested in: How Do You Know If You Have Listeria
  1. Causes of Staph Infection
  2. Risk Factors
  3. Treatment of staph infections
  4. Prevention of a Staph Infection

Causes of Staph Infection

In order to understand how you get a staph infection, you need to know the circumstances which can lead to it:

  • Skin is the biggest defense system against staph bacteria. If you have an injury or a wound, staph infection is one of the biggest risks. This is one reason why first aid wound care is so important, even on minor cuts. This can happen when your skin comes in contact with an infected object like a towel or pillow. Unfortunately, staph bacteria is very hardy and can survive in an inanimate object like a towel or pillow case long enough to infect next person to touch it.
  • Staph bacteria may spread from person to person through direct skin contact, such as through playing contact sports. It may also pass through a cough or sneeze. It commonly passes through people in locker rooms by way of shared towels, razors, equipment and uniforms.
  • Sometimes, the food you eat may also lead to staph infections. This kind of infection is commonly known as food poisoning, although other types of food poisoning occur. When you do not store the food properly or when someone touches it with infected hands, then the bacteria may multiply and lead to a staph infection.
  • When menstruating women use tampons for a long time, they become susceptible to develop a staph infection due to toxic shock syndrome. The saturated blood becomes the ideal breeding ground for staphylococcus aureus, providing a favorable environment for multiplying and releasing toxins. In addition to tampons, it may also develop due to other devices inserted in a female’s vagina, such as a diaphragm, menstrual sponge or cervical cap.

Risk Factors

Now that you know the common causes of staph infection, you must be wondering about who is more likely to develop it. Here are some risk factors for getting this bacteria infection:

Iron deficiency: Insufficient iron in your blood can not only lead to anemia, but a staph infection also. It may make your skin dry and brittle, making it easier to receive wounds and cuts. These may serve as entryways for S. aureus bacteria into your blood stream and cause a staph infection.

Weak immunity: If you are suffering from an autoimmune disease or if you have been using certain medicines for a long time, then it may make your immune system weaker and maximize your prospects of having a staph infection. This happens because a person with weak immunity is not capable of fighting against invasion of bacteria.

Surgery: If you are spending time in a hospital, either receiving treatment or visiting someone else who has been treated, then you have increased chances of getting exposed to stronger staph bacteria variant such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). It may enter your body while you are going through the recovery process after surgery. You will already compromised immunity, making infection more likely. It may also enter into your system if a number of invasive devices were inserted in your body, such as feeding tubes, dialysis tubing, intravascular catheters, breathing intubations, urinary catheters, etc. All these become entryways for the bacteria to enter in your body and cause infection.

Alcohol and drug abuse: Prolonged alcohol and drug abuse can cause a condition called malabsorption. In this condition, the intestines lose their capability to absorb nutrients from the food that you eat, due to which you become susceptible to be a victim of malnutrition and malnourishment. Skin requires vitamins B1, B2, B3, A and C, along with zinc to maintain health. But when these nutrients are not absorbed by your body, you increase your chances of having an invasive staph infection.

Health condition: Certain medicines and health conditions can make your body more susceptible to get a staph infection. People with following health conditions have more chances of developing this infection:

  • Diabetes
  • Weak immunity
  • Kidney failure
  • Cancer
  • Skin damage due to conditions like insect bites, minor trauma and eczema
  • Respiratory conditions like emphysema or cystic fibrosis
How Do You Get A Staph Infection? - Risk Factors

Treatment of staph infections

If you develop a staph infection, you need to know whom to contact in order to receive treatment. Initially, you can get it treated by a general physician, pediatrician or your family doctor. You may seek treatment from your dermatologist if it develops as a skin infection. For a severe infection of your blood stream or internal organ, you may get in touch with an appropriate specialist, such as a cardiologist, infectious disease specialist, surgeon, critical care specialist or pulmonologist.

Usually, when a staph infection appears as a skin infection, it is usually treated with antibiotic ointments. Sometimes, oral antibiotics might be required to treat a skin infection. But if you have developed abscesses and they do not go away with antibiotics, you may need to get them drained out surgically. More serious infections need treatment with intravenous antibiotics and hospitalization.

A variety of antibiotics are used for treating staph infections. The antibiotic that your doctor chooses for you depends on the type of your infection and its severity. Some antibiotics used for treating staph infections include cephalexin, cefazolin, dicloxacillin, rifampin, nafcillin, and telavancin. In some cases, other drugs or a combination of these drugs may be used for treatment. Since MRSA is resistant to most antibiotics, the medicine needs to be selected professionally.

Prevention of a Staph Infection

Here are some common sense steps that you can take to minimize your risk of developing a staph infection by prevention:

  • Washing your hands carefully is the best step towards keeping yourself protected against germs. Wash your hands for 20 seconds, and then dry them using a disposable towel. Germs may be present in your hands even if they are not visibly dirty. In that case, you can keep your hands germ-free by using hand sanitizer that contains 60% alcohol or more.
  • Whenever you get a cut or abrasion, clean it and cover it with a dry, sterile bandage. Pus from an infected sore often contains bacteria which may spread and enter your bloodstream.
  • Since tampons left inside can serve perfect environment for bacteria to breed, grow and spread, you can prevent this condition by changing them frequently and alternating between sanitary pads and tampons. Using a low absorbency tampon can also be a useful step to prevent infection.
  • Don’t share personal items like sheets, towels, clothes, athletic equipment and razors. Staph bacteria can stay on your personal objects, and spread to others when they use them.
  • Staph bacterium may survive well on clothes and sheets which are not washed properly. To remove bacteria from these items, wash them with hot water when feasible.
  • Always wash hands before touching food. Hot foods should be kept at 140 °F or more, and cold foods should be kept at below 40 °F. Any leftovers should be refrigerated as quickly as possible.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to How Do You Get A Staph Infection?, we recommend you visit our Diseases & secondary effects category.

Write a comment
What did you think of this article?
1 comment
I have a friend who has a Staph infection. Her sister is undergoing cancer treatments. Should she avoid contact with her sister?
OneHowTo Editor
Hi Kathy,

Staph infections are very infectious and can be more dangerous for someone with a compromised immune system. It would depend on the severity of the infection, but it may be best to err on the side of caution. Speak to your doctor if at all unsure as every case is different.
1 of 2
How Do You Get A Staph Infection?