Staphylococcus aureus, also known as staph, is a bacteria that lives on the skin of healthy people. Staph bacteria usually don't cause problems, but when they enter broken skin, they occasionally cause skin rashes. Most staph infections are minor and will go away on their own in a few days, but sometimes they are serious enough that you should see a doctor.
Staph infections commonly cause skin rashes such as folliculitis (infected hair follicles), boils (swollen, red lumps that fill with pus, becoming larger and more painful until they rupture) and cellulitis. Sometimes the rash is accompanied by a fever and feeling sick.
Staph bacteria can cause a skin rash called impetigo, in which blisters on the skin ooze fluid and form a honey-colored crust. Impetigo is most common in preschool and elementary school children, and it often affects the skin around the nose and mouth.
At home, try soaking the infected area in warm water three or four times a day, and take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen. Doctors can prescribe antibiotic ointments or pills, and sometimes an infection becomes severe enough that it needs to be surgically drained.
MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a strain of staph bacteria that has developed an immunity to the antibiotics normally used to treat staph infections. MRSA infections can be treated using another specific antibiotic.
Good hygiene (washing hands frequently and showering daily) to remove bacteria from the skin can help prevent staph infections. Keep cuts or scrapes clean and bandaged, and don't share towels, sheets or clothing with someone who has a staph infection.
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