Staph Infection (cont.)

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What are complications of Staph infections?

Scalded skin syndrome is a potentially serious side effect of infection with Staph bacteria that produce a specific protein which loosens the "cement" holding the various layers of the skin together. This allows blister formation and sloughing of the top layer of skin. If it occurs over large body regions, it can be deadly, similar to a large surface area of the body having been burned. It is necessary to treat scalded skin syndrome with intravenous antibiotics and to protect the skin from allowing dehydration to occur if large areas peel off. The disease occurs predominantly in children but can occur in anyone. It is known formally as staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome.

Can Staph infections be prevented?

No vaccine is available against Staphylococcus aureus. Since the bacteria are so widespread and cause so many different diseases, prevention of Staph infections requires attention to the risk factors that may increase the likelihood of getting a particular type of Staph infection. For example, it is possible for menstruating women reduce the risk of toxic shock syndrome by frequently changing tampons (at least every four to eight hours), using low-absorbency tampons, and alternating sanitary pad and tampon use. Careful attention to food-handling and food-preparation practices can decrease the risk of staphylococcal food poisoning. Prevention of Staph infections can be aided by proper hygiene when caring for skin wounds. Careful hand washing, avoiding close skin contact with possible infected individuals, and proper hygienic care of skin scrapes, cuts, and wounds can all reduce the likelihood of skin infections due to Staph, including community-acquired MRSA.

What is the prognosis for Staph infections?

The prognosis or outcome of Staph infections depends upon the type of infection that is present as well as other factors such as the extent to which the infection has spread and the underlying medical condition of the patient. Skin infections and superficial infections, in general, are readily cured with antibiotics. In rare cases, these infections may spread and cause complications, including sepsis (spread of infection to the bloodstream). It is important to remember that even after taking antibiotics for a Staph infection you can still develop a repeat infection.

Widespread infections such as sepsis have a more guarded prognosis; mortality (death) rates range from 20%-40% in cases of Staph aureus infection of the bloodstream. Before antibiotics were available, about 80% of people with Staph aureus sepsis died from complications of the condition. People with suppressed immune systems (those taking immune-suppressing medications or with immune deficiencies) are at increased risk for developing more serious infections.

Staphylococcal food poisoning typically resolves on its own without long-term complications.

Additional resources from WebMD Boots UK on Staph Infection


Comer Yun, Heather, and Haizal Hamza. "Bacterial Infections and Pregnancy." Feb. 11, 2010. <>.

Herchline, Thomas. "Staphylococcal Infections." June 2, 2014. <>.

Tolan, Robert W. "Staphylococcus Aureus Infection." Jan. 10, 2012. <>.

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Community-Associated Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (CA-MRSA)." Mar. 3, 2010.

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Healthcare-Associated Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (HA-MRSA)." Mar. 3, 2010.

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) Infections." Sept. 10, 2013.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/11/2014

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