There are many species of the staphylococcus bacteria and each type causes a variety of staph infections in babies. Staphylococcus bacteria can be found everywhere, usually on a healthy person's skin, and cause an infection when the bacteria enters the body or skin. Babies with staph infections can suffer from a range of illnesses, from moderate skin infections to life-threatening toxic shock syndrome. The most common forms of staph infections in babies are bullous and nonbullous impetigo, bacterial conjunctivitis and staph food poisoning.
Skin staph infections in babies, such as impetigo, are a result of the staphylococcus bacteria entering the skin through a wound such as a cut or scrape, an insect bite or a rash such as eczema or the common diaper rash. Bacterial conjunctivitis, also known as "pink eye," is often caused by a staphylococcus bacteria infection in a baby's eye as a result of touching or being touched by an infected person or object and rubbing their eyes. Staph food infections in babies are caused from staphylococcus bacteria that has been eaten or ingested.
The symptoms and signs of a staph infection in a baby will depend on the type, location and severity of the infection. Babies with a bullous impetigo skin staph infection tend to have fluid-filled blisters on their stomach, diaper region, face, arms and legs. Bullous impetigo staph infection blisters burst and create round, open sores that seep with pus and are surrounded by dead skin. Nonbullous impetigo infections are usually located around the mouth, ears or nose and have a red pimple or bump that turns into a crusty, yellow, patchy sore. Bacterial conjunctivitis, or "pink eye," leads to redness and/or itching in one or both eyes. A staph bacterial conjunctivitis infection will also usually produce drainage in the infected eye. Signs of a staph food infection are dramatic and severe nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea. Staph food infections do not usually result in fever, which is what makes this type of infection distinguishable amongst other types of food poisoning such as salmonella or clostridium.
Absolute prevention of any type of staph infection may prove impossible since the staphylococcal bacteria are literally all around you and your baby. Vigorous hand washing is the best way to prevent passing and acquiring skin and eye staph infections. Keep all wounds, sores and openings in your baby's skin covered with sterile bandages until healed. Avoid sharing your baby's items with anyone else and do not share your personal items such as towels, sheets, clothing and razors with others. Prevent staph food poisoning by making sure that all prepared and cooked foods are immediately refrigerated after eating. If you need to leave food out, keep a time restraint of two to four hours before storing.
Babies who have eczema are more likely to develop impetigo staph infections. Babies with impetigo are contagious until the rash has completely healed. Babies with bacterial conjunctivitis or "pink eye," are contagious until they have been on medication a minimum of 48 hours.
Staphylococcal bacteria are able to survive on objects such as towels and pillow cases, making it easy to pick up the infection from coming into contact with an infected surface. Staph infection-causing bacteria are also resistant to high levels of salt, extreme drying and hot temperatures.