Staph bacteria are all around you, and they may even be in your body right now. It’s speculated that around 15 to 40 percent of healthy people are staph bacteria carriers, which means that the bacteria can live in controllable numbers in a human host without causing any disease. They’re normally found in the nostrils and flexures (skin folds).1
How Staph Bacteria Can Cause Infections
Your skin is the most important defense against staph bacteria. But if it gets wounded and experiences a sudden influx of bacteria from an outside source, an infection will most likely occur. This often happens when you come into contact with infected objects such as pillows or towels.2
It’s also possible for the bacteria to spread through direct skin contact through playing sports, or by coming into contact with sneeze or cough droplets. In other cases, the food you eat can cause a staph infection, a condition commonly known as food poisoning. When food isn’t properly stored (especially in the case of raw foods) or when infected hands touch it prior to eating, bacteria can multiply.3,4
For menstruating women, prolonged use of tampons may also lead to a staph infection known as toxic shock syndrome (TSS). The saturation of blood can become an ideal breeding ground for staph bacteria to multiply and release toxins, which can become a life-threatening condition.
While TSS is typically associated with tampon use, it’s possible for women to get it via menstrual sponges, diaphragms and cervical caps that have been inserted in the vagina for an extended period of time.5
Other Risk Factors Involved in Getting Staph Infections
There are certain factors that influence your risk of getting a staph infection, including:
• Iron Deficiency
Iron deficiency is a condition wherein you do not have enough iron in your blood, which not only causes anemia, but a staph infection as well. The deficiency can lead to brittle and dry skin, making you more susceptible to cuts and wounds, which staph bacteria can use as an entryway to your bloodstream.6
• Weakened Immune System
A weakened immune system due to an autoimmune disease or prolonged use of medications may increase your chances of getting a staph infection, since your immune system can’t fight off the influx of bacteria.7
• Surgery and Invasive Hospital Equipment
If you’re staying in a hospital, there’s a chance you may become infected with a stronger variant of staph bacteria called MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).
MRSA can enter your system while you’re recovering from a surgery due to the large breaks on your skin, and can cause staphylococcal invasive infections. It may also enter through various invasive devices inserted into your system, such as urinary catheters, feeding tubes or breathing intubations.8
• Chronic Alcohol Abuse
Alcoholism can cause malabsorption, a condition where your intestines can’t absorb nutrients from your food properly.9 As a result, nutritional deficiency forms. Your skin needs vitamins A, B1, B2, B3 and C, as well as zinc to maintain healthy skin. Without these nutrients, you may have a higher risk of developing both skin and invasive staph infections.
Work on the Risk Factors if Possible
If you currently have any of the risk factors listed above, it’s important that you address them as soon as you can to reduce your chances of getting staph infections. If you’re recovering from a surgery, it’s important to eat nutritious, organic food to speed up your recovery, build up your immune system and maintain healthy skin. In the case of alcoholism, you may want to reach out to support groups to help curb your alcohol consumption.