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Staph infections - causes, prevention, ayurvedic remedies

What are staph infections?

Staph infections are caused by bacteria known as staphylococcus. Most infections are caused by Staphylococcus aureus. Staph infections can attack any part of the body including skin, eyes, nails and even the inner lining of the heart.

Staph infections generally enter the body through an open wound or cut and spread to the surrounding tissue or travel through the bloodstream to internal organs like the heart or kidneys where it can become life-threatening.

What are the different types of staph infections?

Various names are used to describe staph infections and some are also used to describe strep infections.
  • Folliculitis - This is a superficial infection of the hair follicles that produces small white-headed pustules. This infection generally gets caused by shaving or rubbing against clothes.
  • Boils - These can occur when a staph infection enters the deepest part of the hair follicle causing a pus-filled, painful inflammation. Boils generally form on the face, neck, buttocks and armpits. Boils that appear on the eyelid
  • Furunculosis is the condition when several separate boils form at the same time.
  • Carbuncle - This is a group of connected boils that form deep under the skin. Carbuncles generally occur on the upper back or nape of the neck and are more common in men than women.
  • Impetigo - This refers to patches of small blisters and pustules that become crusty after breaking open.
  • Cellulitis - This staph infection is uncommon but more serious and occurs in the deeper layers of the skin. It starts with inflammation and redness around a cut or sore and then slowly spreads into nearby tissues. Red lines may connect the infection to nearby lymph nodes which can also become infected and swell up. This is known as lymphadenitis.
  • Scalded skin syndrome is a staph infection which affects infants and children. In this case there is a blistering, peeling rash
  • Conjunctivitis - This is very contagious and causes eyes to redden and swell up. Crust forms closing the eye at night.
  • Blepharitis affects the edges of the eyelids and can also cause red, crusty eyes.
  • Paronychia - This affects the edges of fingernails causing swelling and pus filled blisters
  • Mastitis - Nursing mothers can develop staph infections in the breast through cracked, sore nipples causing painful breast abscesses
  • Tampon use can also cause a life threatening staph infection called toxic shock syndrome
  • Staph infections can spread through the bloodstream to bones and joints where abscesses may form and fill with pus causing joints to become arthritic.
  • A staph infections can cause pneumonia if it spreads to the lungs, kidney infections if it spreads to the kidneys. When a staph infection attacks the inner lining of the heart, it can cause endocarditis which can cause permanent heart damage. People taking an antibiotic for other illnesses can develop staph infections in the colon.

    What causes staph infections?

    The bacteria causing staph infections are commonly found in the nose, mouth, rectum and genital area. People can carry staphylococci in their noses without any symptoms of illness. The bacteria are harmless until they enter the body through a break in the skin. Bacteria entering the body through contaminated food can cause food poisoning

    Staph infections are easy to pick up in a hospital after a surgical procedure. Therefore antibiotics are often prescribed to patients before and after surgery.

  • What are the symptoms of Staph infections?

    • Pain or swelling around a cut or scraped area of akin
    • Boils or small white-headed pimples around hair follicles
    • Blistering and peeling skin in infants and young children
    • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits or groin
    You should get medical attention in the following cases:
  • If any pain, swelling or pus forms around a cut or scraped area of skin as the infection may spread to the bloodstream
  • The lymph nodes in your neck, armpits or groun become swollen as this can be a symptom of a other illnesses including mononucleosis, tuberculosis and cancer
  • If a boil is very tender and if it has red lines radiating from it or if you have fever and chills
  • If you have a boil or carbuncle on or near the lip, nose, cheeks, forehead or spine as the infection can spread to the brain or spine
  • If you have recurrent boils, they may be a sign of diabetes

    How is a staph infection diagnosed?

    Your doctor will examine the infection and may take a pus sample to analyse if it is due to staphylococci or another kind of bacterium. If your doctor suspects that the infection has spread to other areas, blood analysis or lymph node culture may also be done. For recurrent boils or sties, a nasal culture may be taken to determine if staphylococci are being harbored in the nose.

    How is a staph infection treated?

    Conventionally you will be given oral antibiotics such as erythromycin or dicloxacillin to clear up the infection. For skin infections, antibiotic creams may be prescribed. Some abscesses must be surgically drained.

    What are some natural ways to prevent staph infections?

  • Consuming turmeric has been known to significantly help . Drink plenty of water while taking turmeric.
  • In addition to consuming turmeric, it can also be directly applied to the infection.
  • Consuming garlic cloves also helps.
  • Goldenseal tea and echinacea tea is also said to help with staph infections.
  • Place a warm, wet washcloth on the boil or sty for 20 minutes 3 or 4 times a days. This will help it to rupture and the pus to drain. Never squeeze or lance a boil or sty as it can cause permanent scarring or cause the infection to spread.
  • A paste of turmeric or goldenseal root can be applied directly to the boil.
  • Do not share towels, washcloths and bed linens with other members of the family while suffering from a staph infection as it can spread.
  • If you are prone to folliculitis wash your skin with an antibacterial soap before you shave.
  • A herbal blend like Septilin is considered beneficial.

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