In one word, yes. If you have a lump on the surface or even just below the surface of the skin, you may have a staph infection. These lumps tend to be full of pus and may resemble an abscess or a boil. The bacteria that causes this infection is called staphylococcus, and it tends to cause little to no problems. In fact, approximately 25 percent of people normally carry staph in their nose or mouth, without infection symptoms. When they do cause a problem, it tends to be a minor skin infection. There are cases, however, in which it turns into a staph infection, and those have the potential to turn quite deadly, as they may invade your lungs or heart, bones, joints, and blood. A staph infection can cause impetigo, cellulitis, food poisoning, and even toxic shock syndrome!
Signs of a Staph Infection
Staph infection generally begins as a small area of tenderness, redness, and swelling. A staph infection may cause low blood pressure, and may also cause diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, which will lead to dehydration. The more common symptoms are pus-filled lumps, oozing blisters, and boils in general. While it is rare, a staph infection does have the potential to turn deadly once the bacteria reach deeper into the body and enter the bloodstream. If the infection is at this level, you should expect fevers, as well as joint and muscle pain.
What are the Treatments for Staph?
Your healthcare provider can do a physical exam and evaluate your symptoms. They may also do a culture or other diagnostic tests. If you’re diagnosed with a staph infection, the first thing your doctor will want to do is drain the boils and remove as much of the infection as possible. Following that, most medical professionals prescribe antibiotics. However, some strains have become resistant to antibiotics, which have led to the use of stronger IV antibiotics such as vancomycin. If your infection involves a prosthetic, your doctor will make sure to remove it immediately.
Is it Contagious?
Yes, a staph infection can be contagious. If you come directly in contact with an infected boil or wound, you will be at risk. The infection remains contagious as long as it is active. The good news is that casual contact, such as shaking hands, should not result in a transfer of the infection.
When Should You See Your Doctor?
If you develop an unusual lump, red area, irritated skin or pain, and sensitivity, you should consult your doctor. Blisters and boils oozing pus are definitely a sign you should consult your medical professional.
At UrgentMED, we have 18 clinics offering fast and affordable medical care. We are the largest comprehensive urgent care network in Southern California, offering a range of services in one location, including physical examinations, laboratory testing, and an in-house pharmacy. If you are concerned about an unusual lump, don’t wait for it to turn into a staph infection. Stop by one of our walk-in clinics today.