Open a PDF version to print this topic

HealthInfo Canterbury

Overview of Staphylococcus skin infections

Staphylococcus aureus (also called Staph aureus or Staph) is a type of bacteria (germ) that commonly lives on healthy skin. Some people carry Staph in moist areas on their body such as their nostrils, armpits and groin.

Staph is usually harmless and not noticeable. But if the skin is very dry, scratched or grazed, the bacteria can multiply and cause skin infections.

The infected skin is generally red, swollen and painful. Sometimes there can be pus and an unpleasant smell. Types of infections include boils, abscesses, impetigo (school sores), cellulitis and folliculitis.

How is a Staph skin infection treated?

There are some simple steps to treat a Staph skin infection.

You may be prescribed antibiotics, but some Staph bacteria are resistant to many commonly used antibiotics.

If you have repeated staph skin infections, you may need to try to remove the staph from your skin. This is called Staph decolonisation.

How can I avoid spreading a Staph skin infection?

To reduce the risk of spreading a Staph skin infection, practise good hand hygiene. This is especially important before and after touching or cleaning an infected area, after going to the toilet, and before handling and eating food.

On the next page: Preventing & treating Staphylococcal skin infections

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed June 2018.


See also:

Skin infections

Page reference: 519527

Review key: HISNI-49791