Staph (pronounced staff) is short for staphylococcus, a bacterium. You may be surprised to hear all the ways that you can become infected and the variety of ailments caused by the different types of staph bacteria.
Some kinds of staphylococci are everywhere around us. They’re sometimes found in the nostrils, on the skin and occasionally in a few places inside the body. In most situations, they don’t do any harm. But given the right conditions and opportunity, the will proliferate in any locale, even in bones, causing a host of problems and symptoms.
Infections that staph bacteria may cause include: toxic shock syndrome, impetigo, boils, carbuncles, food poisoning, pneumonia, endocarditis (a heart infection), pimples and many more. The bacterium called staphylococcus aureus is responsible for many of the very serious staph infections that people may pick up while they’re sick in the hospital.
Some people think of staph infections as skin conditions. In fact, staph bacteria are one cause of cellulitis, an infection that affects the surface of the skin and the tissue underneath it. The bacteria typically get into the skin through a cut or burn. The bacterial infection may remain in one place, but it can cause a widespread reaction.
You can get a staph infection when the bacteria enter the body and the natural infection-fighters in your immune system fail to keep the staph under control. People with weakened immune systems are more prone to staph infections. Sometimes the bacteria enter through a break in the protective layer of the skin. It can travel through the air or be spread by touch, but most of the time nothing will come of it.