COVID-19 Resources: Keeping you safe | Vaccine Information | Visitor Policy and Hours
View All Services
Find a New Primary Care Provider
Search by Specialty
View All Locations
Discover classes, events, tours, and groups that fit your interests.
Home > Be Healthy > Health Library > Staph Infection
Staphylococcus aureus (staph) is a type of bacteria that can cause infections. Staph bacteria normally live on the skin. They don't usually cause problems. They only become a problem when they cause infection. The infection has a higher chance of becoming serious in people who are weak or ill or who are being treated in the hospital. Sometimes staph bacteria can cause more serious widespread infection.
In the hospital, staph infections are more likely to occur in wounds, burns, or places where there is a break in the skin or where tubes enter the body. In the community, these infections are more likely to occur among people who have cuts or wounds and who have close contact with one another.
Staph bacteria can be spread by touching a person or object. It is often spread from the hands of someone who has a staph infection.
In the hospital, staph infections are more likely to occur in wounds, burns, or places where there is a break in the skin or where tubes enter the body. In the community, staph infections are more likely to occur among people who have cuts or wounds and who have close contact with one another.
Symptoms of a staph infection depend on where the infection is. If the infection is:
Staph infection is diagnosed based on a medical history and a physical exam. Your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms and your work and home environments.
The doctor will take a sample of your infected wound or a sample of blood, urine, or mucus (sputum) coughed up from the lungs. The sample is tested for staph bacteria. This test may take several days.
In some cases, imaging is done to look for signs of infection. For example, a chest X-ray can show a lung infection.
The doctor will take a sample of your infected wound or a blood or urine sample. The sample is tested to see which antibiotics can kill the bacteria in it. This test may take several days.
If you have a staph infection, your doctor may:
You may have to stay in the hospital for treatment. In the hospital, you may be kept apart from others. This is to reduce the chances of spreading the bacteria.
Current as of:
July 1, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineElizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine
Current as of: July 1, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Elizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.