Staph infections vary depending on what part of your body the bacteria choose to attack. The following information will provide you an approximate duration of the symptoms of several common staph diseases, and the time they take to heal once treatment begins.
Staphylococcal Skin Infections Have Similar Durations
Since staph bacteria normally cause associated symptoms such as blisters, rashes and pus-filled bumps, they have similar incubation periods. Examples of these diseases include:
The incubation period for a boil is believed to be between four and 10 days.1 Once it appears, it typically lasts for one to three weeks before it subsides. If the boil opens and drains, the healing period may be shorter.2
Infants and toddlers up to 5 years old usually get impetigo. Once their skin is exposed to staph bacteria, symptoms will usually appear within four to 10 days. However, if the child is exposed to streptococcal bacteria, the incubation time is one to three days only.3
Once the symptoms set in, it usually takes two to three weeks before they go away. But if you get treatment right away, the duration can be reduced to seven to 10 days.4
• Skin Abscess
Since a skin abscess is similar to a boil, it has a similar incubation period of four to 10 days before symptoms appear. When the abscess has fully grown, it takes around one to three weeks before it disappears on its own.
• Staphylococcal Scalded Skin Syndrome (SSSS)
The onset of SSSS is quick once staph bacteria begin to infect your skin. SSSS typically starts with a fever and skin irritability, but after one to two days, your skin develops red spots along with fluid-filled blisters. If treatment is administered immediately, the rashes and blisters may go away after five to seven days.5
Invasive Staphylococcal Infections Have Varying Durations
Your body has a system of organs that can be infected by staph bacteria through a crack in your skin. As such, they can cause a wide array of diseases, leading to varying incubation and recovery periods. Examples of invasive infections and their durations include:
• Food Poisoning
The incubation period for food poisoning is immediately felt once staph bacteria is digested in your stomach. Within just one to six hours, you will already start to experience classic food poisoning symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea for one to three days. Afterward, the symptoms gradually go away on their own.6
Pneumonia typically starts with a fever, and after one to three days, you’ll develop difficulties in breathing.7 But in some cases, symptoms may appear in seven to 10 days.8 As for the actual duration of pneumonia, it depends on several factors such as your current age, the strength of your immune system and how soon you treat the symptoms.
It’s estimated that healthy people who develop pneumonia may have it for two to three weeks. Older adults may have it for six to eight weeks, or even longer.9
• Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)
TSS is a potentially fatal disease that has a short incubation period. Once staph bacteria begin releasing toxins into your body, symptoms such as a high fever, vomiting, muscle aches and rashes develop in as little as 12 hours. After one to two weeks, the skin on your palms and soles may experience peeling.10
In a study published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, researchers concluded that the incubation period for endocarditis is between one and two weeks.11 As for the treatment period, it usually lasts for two weeks.12
The Incubation Period Varies Depending on Different Factors
It’s quite difficult to provide an exact average period for each staphylococcal infection because many factors are involved, such as your age, your body’s ability to fight off staph bacteria and any medical current conditions you may have. What’s important is that once you begin to experience symptoms of a staph infection, it’s best to visit your doctor right away to receive treatment. Some staph infections are life-threatening (especially invasive infections), so take any symptom you experience seriously.