Staphylococcus, or staph, is a kind of bacteria. Staph can cause skin infections, like impetigo, boils, and cellulitis. The bacteria can also infect bone, muscle, or joints. Rarely, staph may cause other serious infections, such as pneumonia and heart infections.
Staph bacteria usually live on the skin without hurting your child. However, if the bacteria get into the deeper layers of the skin, they may cause an infection. This can happen if your child has a skin condition like eczema, or if he has a scratch, scrape, insect bite, or other irritation that causes a break in the skin.
For common skin infections, like impetigo or boils, symptoms may include:
Deeper skin infection (cellulitis) can result in:
Your healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history and examine your child. Tests may include:
For many skin infections, draining the pus from the area is all that is needed. Mild infections on the surface of the skin may be treated with a medicine put on the skin. For infections such as impetigo and cellulitis, your child may need to take an antibiotic by mouth for 1 to 2 weeks. More serious infections may need to be treated in the hospital with IV antibiotics.
The widespread use of antibiotics has caused some of these bacteria to change and become resistant to antibiotics. Resistance means that the bacteria cannot be killed by these antibiotics. Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus, or MRSA, is a type of staph that is very hard to treat with most antibiotics. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider if people living with your child have been diagnosed with MRSA.
Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions. Give medicine exactly as prescribed. If your child stops taking the medicine too soon, the infection may come back. If your child has side effects from the medicine, talk to your child’s provider. In addition:
Ask your child’s provider:
Make sure you know when your child should come back for a checkup.
To help prevent skin infections, teach your child to practice good hygiene: