Staph, or staphylococcus, is bacteria with more than 30 different types, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Staphylococcus aureus is one specific type of staph that causes most staph infections like skin infections, pneumonia, food poisoning, toxic shock syndrome, and blood poisoning. Staph is bacteria that live harmlessly on the skin, but when the skin is punctured, the staph bacteria can enter the wound and cause an infection. Staph skin infections are the most common and can be treated over the counter.
According to KidsHealth.org, localized skin staph infections should first be treated by cleansing with antibacterial soap and then soaked in warm water. Antibacterial soaps are sold over the counter and can help limit the spread of staph infections.
Antibiotic ointments like Neosporin or Polysporin are good topical treatments for staph infections. After cleansing skin and then soaking in warm water, dry and apply an antibiotic ointment. Cover the affected area with a clean dressing and to prevent the staph infection from spreading, use towels only once before washing.
Soaking the area or placing clean, warm wash cloths on the affected area helps relieve pain associated with the staph infection, according to KidsHealth.org. Warm water bottles or heating pads can be applied for approximately 20 minutes two to three times per day for pain relief. Take over-the-counter NSAIDs (Tylenol and Ibuprofen) to help control pain associated with a staph infection.
If staph infections do not clear up, the bacteria can cause serious complications like toxic shock syndrome, pneumonia and blood poisoning, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Additional complications may include cellulitis, a hot swollen red area, or impetigo, a skin crust. If your staph infection does not go away within a few days of treating it with over-the-counter remedies, or you develop a high fever, or the infected area is hot and swollen, seek medical attention immediately.
It is important to keep your body and clothes clean, along with bed linens and towels. According to KidsHealth.org, people get staph infections from contaminated objects and through skin-to-skin contact, and it spreads between people who live within close contact to each other.