Recognizing and Treating A Nasal Staph Infection

A staph infection is a bacterial infection, caused by the Staphylococcus bacteria. In fact, nearly 25 percent of all people normally are carriers of staph in their mouth, nose, genitals and even the anal area, and they never get to know about it since they do not experience any symptoms of this infection. The foot is another body part that is quite prone to picking up the Staphylococcus bacteria from the floor. Staph infection typically starts with a little cut, which then gets infected with the staph bacteria. Staph infection usually looks like honey-yellow crusting on the skin. The nose is also another part of the body that is prone to get infected by the Staphylococcus bacteria.

Recognizing and treating a staph infection in your nose is critical to stopping the infection from spreading to other parts of the body. Let’s take a look at how this can be done.

What is a Staph Infection?

Before learning to recognize the signs of a staph infection, it is necessary to know just what a staph infection is. A staph infection is a type of bacterial infection that is caused by the Staphylococcus bacteria. Staphylococcus bacteria are commonly found in the environment. (1) A staph infection presents a variety of skin conditions, such as: boils, cellulitis, folliculitis, impetigo and scalded skin syndrome.

What is a Staph Infection?

While none of these skin conditions are contagious, but they are still caused by the Staphylococcus bacteria. The bacteria spread through two ways:

  1. Either from touching a contaminated object.
  2. Or through person-to-person contact.

You might even pick up the staph infection by touching a contaminated doorknob.(2)

Nasal Staph Infection or Staph Infection In Your Nose

Most commonly, the staph bacteria prefers to remain in the nasal passages of a person, and due to this, the nose is one of the most common sites for developing a staph infection.(3)

There are three types of nasal staph infections, including:

  1. Folliculitis: This is a nasal staph infection that involves one or more of your hair follicles.
  2. Nasal Vestibulitis: Another type of nasal staph infection, this affects the frontal area of your nasal cavity. This type of nasal staph infection causes crusts and bleeding from the nose.
  3. Boils: Also known as furuncles, a boil is a deeper staph infection that occurs around a hair follicle or an oil gland in the nose. Pus can drain out if the nasal boil breaks open.

Common Symptoms of Nasal Staph Infection or Staph Infection of the Nose

The following symptoms could indicate that you have a potential staph infection in your nose:

  • Redness.
  • Swelling of the nose.
  • Crusting around the nose.
  • Light bleeding from the nose.
  • Pain or soreness.
  • Fever.
  • Lesions on the nose or inside the nose that ooze fluid or pus.

Nasal staph infection typically begins as a small area of swelling, tenderness and redness within your nose. Sometimes staph infection can also begin with an open sore on your nose. Other times, though, there will be an obvious break in the skin in and around your nose. If the infection starts to spread, then you may develop a fever, sometimes accompanied by sweats and chills, as well as swelling around the nasal area.

How To Recognize If You Have Nasal Staph Infection or Staph Infection In Your Nose?

In order to confirm if you have a staph infection in your nose, then it is best to visit your doctor at once. You do not want the infection to spread. Your doctor will first examine your nose and also inquire about your symptoms. They are also likely to collect a sample of your nasal secretions or nasal tissue to test it for bacterial growth.

Testing your nasal tissue and secretions will help your doctor recognize if the staph infection you have is caused by MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). MRSA is a certain type of staph infection that is resistant to most types of antibiotics and therefore, requires very careful treatment.(4)

Treatment for Nasal Staph Infections or Staph Infection In Your Nose

Antibiotics are usually used for treating nasal staph infections. However, over the years, there has been a gradual change in how well some of these antibiotics work in treating staph infections. While most nasal staph infections were once treatable easily with penicillin, now stronger antibiotics are required for the same. Your doctor is likely to prescribe oral antibiotics or a topical antibiotic ointment for treating a staph infection in your nose. Sometimes, doctors prefer prescribing both an oral antibiotic as well as the ointment for treating a staph infection in your nose.

However, if you are diagnosed to have MRSA, then your doctor is likely going to prescribe an even stronger antibiotic, or sometimes doctors even need to use intravenous antibiotics if the nasal staph infection becomes severe and does not respond well to treatment.(5)

It is important that you take the full course of antibiotics that are prescribed by your doctor, even if you start feeling better after just 2-3 doses. Otherwise, it is likely that not all of the bacteria will be killed, making them resistant to antibiotics, and there is a strong likelihood of your staph infection returning.

If your nasal staph infection is in the form of a large lesion or a boil, then it might need to be drained. It is best if you do not pop the boil or lesion by yourself, as this can cause the staph infection to spread to other places.

What Happens If You Don’t Treat A Nasal Staph Infection or Staph Infection In Your Nose?

Well, mild staph infections in the nose do tend to get better on their own without any treatment. However, there are certain staph infections that can become serious and also cause complications, including:(6)

Sepsis: This can be potentially life-threatening, as sepsis is a condition that results as a result of your body’s extreme response to an infection.(7)

Cellulitis: Cellulitis happens when an infection occurs or spreads to the deeper layers of the skin.(8)

Cavernous Sinus Thrombosis: This is a rare, but severe, complication of facial or nasal staph infections. It involves the formation of a blood clot right at the base of your brain.(9)

Conclusion

Staph bacteria can be commonly found on our skin and even in our nasal cavity. While usually, these bacteria tend to be harmless, they can, nevertheless, cause an infection when they enter the bloodstream through a break in your skin. If you start to notice that an area in your nose has become irritated or red, then it is always recommended that you keep a close watch on it. If it further becomes painful or starts to form pus or fluid-filled lesion or bump in your nose, you should immediately seek medical treatment so that it does not lead to a more serious infection.

References:

  1. Myles, I.A. and Datta, S.K., 2012, March. Staphylococcus aureus: an introduction. In Seminars in immunopathology (Vol. 34, No. 2, pp. 181-184). Springer-Verlag.
  2. Tong, S.Y., Davis, J.S., Eichenberger, E., Holland, T.L. and Fowler, V.G., 2015. Staphylococcus aureus infections: epidemiology, pathophysiology, clinical manifestations, and management. Clinical microbiology reviews, 28(3), pp.603-661.
  3. Kluytmans, J.A.J.W. and Wertheim, H.F.L., 2005. Nasal carriage of Staphylococcus aureus and prevention of nosocomial infections. Infection, 33(1), pp.3-8.
  4. Sakr, A., Brégeon, F., Mege, J.L., Rolain, J.M. and Blin, O., 2018. Staphylococcus aureus Nasal Colonization: an Update on Mechanisms, Epidemiology, Risk Factors and Subsequent Infections. Frontiers in Microbiology, 9, p.2419.
  5. Rashid, Z., Farzana, K., Sattar, A. and Murtaza, G., 2012. Prevalence of nasal Staphylococcus aureus and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in hospital personnel and associated risk factors. Acta poloniae pharmaceutica, 69(5), pp.985-991.
  6. Casewell, M.W., 1998. The nose: an underestimated source of Staphylococcus aureus causing wound infection. Journal of Hospital Infection, 40, pp.S3-S11.
  7. Koehler, P., Jung, N., Kochanek, M., Lohneis, P., Shimabukuro-Vornhagen, A. and Böll, B., 2018. ‘Lost in Nasal Space’: Staphylococcus aureus sepsis associated with Nasal Handkerchief Packing. Infection, pp.1-5.
  8. Cheng, L.H. and Kang, B.H., 2010. Nasal septal abscess and facial cellulitis caused by community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. The Journal of Laryngology & Otology, 124(9), pp.1014-1016.
  9. Plewa, M.C. and Dulebohn, S.C., 2017. Cavernous Sinus, Thrombosis. In StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing.

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