You may have read that staph infections are getting out of control in public places like schools, hospitals, and gyms. There are strains of Staphylococcus aureus that have become resistant to antibiotics, which makes getting rid of staph infections quite difficult, but those strains that are absolutely resistant are rare. But it bears emphasis: if you think you’re suffering from a staph infection, and medical attention is available, you should see a physician as soon as possible. Impetigo is no longer considered a minor infection, and a Staph infection can be life threatening.
Why has Staph become a major problem today? Probably because we’ve been using antibacterial soaps and antibiotics like they’re going out of style. Whenever antibiotics are used to cure an infection, there are always a few surviving bacteria who make it through the holocaust. While the chances of those bacteria surviving your body’s own defenses (sans antibiotics) are low, it can happen, and it has happened and that’s why we face what you might call a strain of super-bacteria. So, let’s talk about how you can prevent impetigo and how to treat mild cases of impetigo.
- Itching of the Skin
- Redness of the Skin
- Sores on the Skin
- Yellow/Gray Scabs
Types of Staph Infections
While Impetigo is almost always caused by the Staphylococcus aureus bacterium and is the most common type of staph infection, it’s not the only type of infections that may be caused by Staph. Some other types of Staph infections include boils and carbuncles, stomach flu, and arthritis. Of particular interest is the onset of arthritis caused by the Staph bacteria being released into the blood stream, usually from another infection.
Best Prevention and Treatment Methods for Impetigo
The best way to prevent a staph infection or any superficial skin infection is to practice good hygiene, always. This is especially true in public places like schools, gyms, and restrooms. Today, it’s almost impossible to avoid good hygiene with the availability of standalone, alcohol gel hygiene stations being installed in almost every public building that sees large amounts of human traffic. You may even want to pick up a bottle of alcohol gel hand sanitizer for your personal use. Oh, and don’t forget to take a shower once in a while.
Another good way to prevent a staph infection is to avoid sharing razors, towels, or anything else that comes into contact with a person’s skin. Impetigo (staph infections) are extremely contagious. Just brushing against someone who’s infected is enough to transfer millions of bacteria. For you nerds out there, pointing out the fact that people are dying from a rogue strain of flesh-eating bacteria is a good way to get the jocks to stop snapping you with their towels after gym class.
To help get rid of a minor staph infection, you might want to try a warm compress soaked in vinegar or rubbing alcohol. Vinegar has been shown to have plenty of antimicrobial power, so much so that conscientious janitors are now cleaning public restrooms with it. But when you really want to make sure those staph bacteria are dead as hell, nothing beats good old rubbing alcohol. That’s why hospitals have those cans of alcohol-based hand cleaner just laying around the place–it’s almost 100% effective at killing bacteria, some of which cause impetigo.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a staph infection, your doctor will tell you to wash the infected area several times a day. This goes beyond normal daily hygiene, and requires letting the soap and/or alcohol soak into the wound, redressing it afterwards with a loose piece of cotton guaze. Watchful attentiveness is probably the least toxic, drug-free way to get rid of impetigo.
When worse comes to worst, your doctor may prescribe a topical antibiotic to get rid of impetigo. Usually an over-the-counter topical antibiotic like Neosporin (whcih you can find at Amazon) will do the trick, but with more serious infections your doctor is likely to prescribe something stronger. Traditionally, staph infections were treated with an oral antibiotic like penicillin, but because antibiotic-resistant strains are becoming more common, doctors have had to resort to stronger antibiotics with a broader spectrum of microbial control. In other words, go see a doctor if you think your impetigo is getting out of control–it could save you a trip to the intensive care unit.
Folliculitis, Boils and Carbuncles
If you’ve come down with a case of folliculitis–a superficial infection of a hair follicle, otherwise known as acne–staph or strep bacteria are the usual culprits, but the preventions and treatments remain the same:
- Wash with soap and warm water regularly.
- Treat the infected area(s) with warm compresses soaked in alcohol or vinegar.
- Apply topical antibiotics if infection persists.
- See your family physician if the infection doesn’t improve within a few days.
Boils and carbuncles seen on your back, face, neck and head should be treated by a medical professional immediately, because there is a chance the bacteria might spread to your spinal cord or your brain. It’s rare, but it happens. However, a boil will usually burst and heal on its own.