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Preventing & treating Staphylococcal skin infections

Staphylococcus aureus (commonly called Staph or Staph aureus) is a type of bacteria (germ). It's on the skin and in the noses of about a quarter of healthy people.

Staph is usually harmless, and you don't even notice it. But if your skin is damaged with a scratch or even a small cut or graze, it can cause skin infections such as boils and abscesses.

Children who have eczema are more likely to get skin infections because it's more likely that their skin will get dry and crack when they scratch it.

Repeat Staph infections

Some people get repeat Staph infections while others around them don't. If this happens to you, it usually doesn't mean you have a problem with your immunity. It usually just means that you have more Staph on your skin or up your nose, or you have a more aggressive type of Staph. Over time, which can be up to two years, you'll develop immunity to Staph and will stop getting so many infections.

In families, schools, preschools, sports clubs, and residential care facilities, Staph infections can easily spread from person to person, so several people get infected. But some of them may stay well and not show any signs of infection, even though they carry Staph in their nose or other parts of their body. These people can spread the infection to others.

Avoiding repeat Staph infections

Protecting your home

How often you do this depends on how many people are in your household and how dirty things get. For example, a family of eight in a three-bedroom house should vacuum and clean every second day. An older couple may only need to vacuum and clean once every two weeks.

Change towels and sheets weekly. Change underwear daily.

Treating a Staph infection

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Page created August 2018. Last updated November 2018.

Page reference: 45020

Review key: HISNI-49791