Three-year-old Gaurav developed puss-filled boils after he spent a month in a neighbourhood daycare centre. It all started with small red spots around his mouth and nose. Soon, the spots spread all over his face and to his hands. Then, he developed puss-filled blisters. A visit to the doctor confirmed that Gaurav had impetigo, a type of staph infection.
What are staph infections and how do children get them? Read on to know more.
Here are the 17 things you need to know about staph skin infection:
- Staphylococcal infection is one of the most common bacterial skin infections caused by the staphylococci (staph) bacteria, which live either on the skin or nose of a healthy individual. The most common one is staphylococcus aureus, found in the nostrils of people.
- Unless these bacteria enter the body, they are harmless. They can cause infections when they enter the body through cuts or bruises. Those who have eczema are more vulnerable to this infection.
- The staph infection spreads only by skin-to-skin contact. Your child would not get the infection if his school friend has it. But if your child has an open wound and he has a skin-to-skin contact with an infected child, he can get the affected.
- Children are vulnerable to this infection in daycare centres, schools, playgrounds, locker rooms, gyms, classrooms and other crowded places.
- In children, the staph infection can spread from one area of the body to another area. Your child herself could spread the infection with dirty hands or fingernails.
- Keep an eye on new and existing cuts and bruises on your child's body. If you notice that your child’s cuts and bruises haven't healed, and there is redness and swelling around the area, it could be a staph infection.
- Once the infection sets in your child’s wound, the child may get a mild fever. He may also feel uncomfortable.
- Yellow-coloured crusting or scabs appear in the wound infected by a staph infection. If your child has eczema, a staph infection could develop in the infected areas of his skin.
- Some of the most common staph-related skin infections are impetigo or school sores, folliculitis and boils, and methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
- Most staph infections are easily treatable with a dose of antibiotics. However, over the years, some strains of the staph bacteria can resist antibiotics like methicillin. Those are called methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
- In MRSA type of infection, the infected pus is yellow or golden-coloured. Hence, people refer to this infection as 'golden staph'. To treat golden staph, doctors may prescribe specific antibiotics.
- In another type of staph infection, called Scalded Skin Syndrome (SSS), the child may have a fever, rashes, and sometimes, blisters. Mostly seen in newborns and children below five years of age, SSS is a serious bacterial infection. Here, the skin starts to peel because of a toxin produced by the bacteria. As it looks like a burn injury, it is called scalded skin syndrome.
- You can treat milder forms of staph at home. Wash the affected skin with an anti-bacterial cleanser. Cover your child’s wounds with a dressing if it oozes puss. Avoid skin-to-skin contact. Make sure that your child finishes the antibiotics course prescribed by the doctor.
- However, in the case of boils, do not try to drain the infections. It could spread to other areas on the body.
- Good hand hygiene plays an important role in preventing staph infection. Even when you are caring for your child with a staph infection, make sure that you wash your hand before and after handling the wound. It will prevent spreading of the infection.
- If you have an infected person at home, do not share clothes or towels with him. Teach your children to do the same.
- Since staph infections enter the body through cuts, protect your child from bug bites and sunburn. If your child’s skin tends to break-out easily, cover it properly, to prevent the bacteria from entering the body.
With inputs from Dr Sravya Tipirneni, dermatologist and cosmetologist.
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