How to Distinguish Acne from Staph Infections
Posted By: Lindsay Schroeder Posted In: Uncategorized Date Posted: July 15th, 2010 Comments: 1

We all know what an acne breakout looks like, particularly pimples that usually pop up during the teenage years, right? However, if what looks like an acne breakout doesn’t seem to go away after several treatments then it may be something else – It could be a staph infection.

How is Acne Different from a Staph Infection?

Telling these two apart can be easy if the staph infection is large and they normally resemble boils. Sometimes certain cases of staph infection will only yield smaller skin breakouts which will often resemble zits. This is where the problem comes in. Acne and a staph infection can now be difficult to tell apart.

It takes a professional doctor to distinguish between the two. Staph infections are caused by bacteria called Staphylococcus Aureus. The bacteria are commonly found on our skin and are relatively harmless as long as they remain on the skin’s surface. They become dangerous when they start to form skin ruptures when they seep under the skin through wounds.

One has to determine if he or she is really suffering from a staph infection before going to the doctor. The first thing one needs to observe is whether or not the acne breakout will respond to common acne treatments such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. If it doesn’t, there’s a chance that it’s a staph infection. Also try to determine where the breakout is. If it erupts in places where one doesn’t normally have pimples, then it’s also a good indicator that it’s a staph infection and not acne.

Treating Acne and Staph Infection

There are many ways to treat acne, including topical creams that include benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid which are designed to get rid of acne. Staph infections, on the other hand, require a different kind of treatment. The first line of defense against this infection is penicillin. Some strains of staph are already resistant to penicillin, so your doctor may prescribe a different type of antibiotic.

It is important that you know the difference between common acne and a staph infection because it helps one receive the proper treatment right away. Staph infection is caused by bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus, and thus requires a different kind of treatment from acne. It is also a very dangerous infection that could result in horrible consequences if not treated properly so if you are in doubt of what is occurring on your skin, make an appointment with your dermatologist immediately.


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  • Hilary - January 31, 2013 at 9:00 pm - Reply

    THANK YOU SO MUCH for this article. This is the most useful one that I have found in weeks. I now have a Doctor’s appointment.

    My skin never breaks out, so I knew something was wrong. But it is in the t-zone, so I felt like it couldn’t be staph.

    It hasn’t responded well to my treatment-and I took Esthetician classes.It’s been over a month. I get different spots all over my forehead.

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