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There are over 30 different kinds of staph bacteria, but staphylococcus aureus is the most common. (Staph, or staphyle, means “bunch of grapes” in Greek, which is more or less what staph looks likes under the microscope.)
It can often be found living harmlessly on human skin. But occasionally, staph will wander into a hair follicle or slip into a crack in your skin causing a slew of common infections ranging from boils, to sties, to rashes. Red sores and pus are typical of affected areas.
Because these types of infections are normally localized and minor, washing with antibacterial ointment is usually sufficient treatment. And in many cases, staph infections clear up on their own.
But it is important to monitor infected areas and keep them clean. If staph penetrates further into your body, or gets into your bloodstream, it can cause serious ailments such as “food poisoning”, pneumonia, Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), and even septicemia.
In addition, patients undergoing surgery are at significantly increased risk for infection, not only because their skin-barrier is compromised, but also because their immune systems are typically suppressed.
Which is one reason hospitals try to maintain as sterile an environment as possible: infecting patients with staph after curing them is clinically-proven to reap sour grapes.
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