Staphylococcus aureus is by far the most common bacteria to infect and colonize (when bacteria are present, but not causing an infection) the skin in eczema. Often referred to simply as “staph,” these bacteria are commonly carried on the skin or in the nose of healthy people as well.
Approximately 25% of the population is colonized in the nose with staph bacteria. Greater than 90% of patients with moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis are colonized with staph.
Sometimes, staph can cause an infection. Most of these skin infections are minor (such as pimples and boils) and can be treated with antibiotics and/or incision (cutting the boil open to allow it to drain). However, staph bacteria also can cause serious infections (such as surgical wound infections, bloodstream infections, and pneumonia).
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