When you have eczema, you’re at high risk for developing skin infections. The most common, and potentially serious, is an infection by bacteria called staphylococcus aureus (staph). These bacteria are found on 90 percent of people with moderate-to-severe eczema and are one of the factors that make those with eczema more likely to get an infection.
“Just like your gut, the surface of your skin has a microbiome — it’s coated with numerous bacteria as well as other microorganisms,” said Dr. Frank Lichtenberger, M.D., Ph.D., medical director at AD RescueWear. “In healthy skin, the microbiome contains more ‘good’ bacteria. But with eczema, your microbiome has a higher concentration of ‘bad’ bacteria that produce toxins, which research suggests may trigger eczema flares. When skin is damaged, it’s the perfect opportunity for ‘bad’ bacteria and organisms to invade.”
What Are the Signs of a Staph Infection?
It can be difficult to spot a staph infection if you have eczema, since both conditions cause discomfort and skin irritation. However, staph infections may be accompanied by a fever, and frequently produce one or more tender bumps (also called boils) that may be:
- Filled with or leaking pus
- Warm to the touch
- Pink or red colored
How Are Staph Infections Treated?
If you’re concerned about a skin infection, you should see your doctor, who can take a culture (a swab of your skin to see if bacteria are present). This is especially important because some types of staph infections – called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) – are resistant to commonly prescribed antibiotics. Once the bacteria are identified, your doctor can prescribe the most appropriate antibiotics for the specific staph strain. (Learn more about MRSA and eczema)
Are Staph Infections Contagious?
Staph infections can be spread from person to person by direct contact with the skin or by sharing personal items such as towels, toiletries and clothing. It’s necessary to cover a staph infection with a dry dressing until it’s fully healed. One way to do this is by using our specially designed medical bodysuits, tops, bottoms and arm and leg sleeves.
In addition to keeping infected skin covered, these suits protect skin from triggers and are excellent for use in wet wrap therapy – an effective at-home treatment of applying damp medical fabric over moisturized skin to help eczema heal.
How Can You Prevent Staph Infections?
Maintaining your skin’s natural barrier against opportunistic bacteria and viruses, as well as allergens, is essential to preventing staph infections. The best way to do is this is to avoid eczema triggers and maintain a bathing and moisturizing routine that includes prescription topicals or over-the-counter, eczema-safe lotions.
You can find all the products you need to protect your skin, and thereby prevent staph infections, in our eczema relief store.