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Staph Infection in Toddlers Causes, Prevention & Treatments

March 24, 2023

Staph infection is common in toddlers when compared to adults. It is a bacterial infection caused by staphylococcus group. It can affect the skin and various parts of the body, including the lungs, bones and heart. But when it is diagnosed early, with proper treatment, these infections get cured without any complications.

Causes of Staphylococcus Staph Infection in Toddlers

Any bacteria from the family of Staphylococcus can cause staph infection. However, the most common bacterium is the Staphylococcus aureus. The other species that lead to this illness are Staphylococcus saprophyticus and Staphylococcus epidermidis. These are present inside the nose of a healthy individual or can be present on the skin. Normally these do not cause infection, but when they enter the human body through abrasions, cuts or wounds, it causes staphylococcus infection. If left untreated, it can reach the blood vessels, joints, bones and organs and turn into a serious problem like septicemia.

Book an appointment to consult Dr. Tanushri Mukherjee for pediatric  concerns.

Factors That Cause Staph Infection in Kids

The following are some of the factors that put a kid at a high risk of infection:

  • Immunodeficiency or a weak immunity
  • Children who are malnourished
  • Infections got while staying at a hospital
  • Cancer, diabetes or other such chronic diseases
  • AIDS or HIV
  • Organ transplant
  • Kidney impairment which required dialysis
  • Skin injuries due to insect bites, trauma, abrasions and wounds
  • Unclean wounds, Burn wound and surgical wound
  • Breathing and feeding tubes
  • Eczema or other skin disorders
  • Invasive devices like catheters
  • Kids who attend preschool or daycare can contract this infection from other children
  • Consuming food or drink at unhygienic places
  • Close contact with a person who has this infection

Signs and Symptoms of Staph Infection in Kids

The symptoms vary depending on the severity and the affected area. It ranges from minor infection of the skin to life-threatening illness like toxic septic shock syndrome or endocarditis.

Skin Infections Symptoms

  • Boils are most common staph infection; occur in the oil glands or the hair follicles. The affected area becomes red and swollen. These boils are usually seen on the buttocks and the underarms. If it is broken, it may drain pus.
  • It can cause carbuncle, which is a group of boils
  • The stye of the eye, which is a red bump on or near the eyelid.
  • School sores or impetigo cause sores or large blisters forming crusts and oozing fluid. They are itchy and can spread to other parts by scratching. It is painful and contagious
  • Cellulitis is a deep-skin staph infection in kids. The affected area is red, tender and swollen. The child may have fever and becomes sick.
  • Ritter disease leads to the superficial skin coming off after the opening of blisters. The outer layer peels off and usually begins with a skin rash, blister and fever.

Food Poisoning

Foods contaminated with staph leads to food poisoning. The bacteria multiply in food and produce toxins. The symptoms appear quickly, within few hours after eating it and last for a day. Staph infection in kids with food poisoning has the following symptoms

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Hypotension and dehydration if there are severe symptoms.


If staphylococci bacteria may get into the bloodstream resulting in bacteremia. The symptoms of this staphylococcus infection are:

  • Fever and chills
  • Hypotension
  • Lethargy
  • If not treated properly, it can infect the organs like the brain, lungs and heart, along with bone tissues and muscles.

Toxic Shock Syndrome

Toxic shock syndrome happens when surgical wounds or skin wounds are not maintained cleanly. It can cause:

  • Nausea
  • High fever
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea, stomach pain
  • Muscle ache
  • Rash on soles and palms that look like sunburn
  • Confusion and reduced alertness


Staphylococcus infection of lungs cause pneumonia. The signs and symptoms of this staph infection are:

  • Fever and chills
  • Cough
  • Increased respiration
  • Breathlessness
  • Intercostal spaces are indrawn

Septic Arthritis

When the bacteria reach the joints, it results in septic arthritis. It affects the shoulders, fingers, hips and knees. The symptoms include:

  • Swollen joints
  • Fever
  • Joint pain
  • Pus


Osteomyelitis is a bone infection caused by staph. It includes symptoms like

  • Pain
  • Redness on the affected bone
  • Tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Fever and chills

It can also spread to nervous system and cause CNS infections like meningitis. Older toddlers also develop this because of dental abscesses.


The inflammation of the heart tissue due to staph is called endocarditis. The symptoms are:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Fever and chills
  • Tiredness
  • Breathing problems
  • Swelling of legs and arms

Staph Infection in Toddlers - Treatment

  • Treatment depends on severity of illness and site of infection.
  • Oral antibiotics are the most common choice of treatment for skin infections. Severe complications like septic shock or sepsis need IV antibiotics and hospitalization.
  • For minor skin injuries, topical ointments or antibiotic creams are prescribed. Ensure that you complete the course as per doctor recommendations, even if the symptoms have subsided. Incomplete treatment leads to resistance in bacteria.
  • A bleach bath may be recommend by doctor. This will reduce the amount of bacteria on the skin and will help to treat the current infection.
  • If there are recurrent infections, the pediatrician may ask you to use systemic antibiotic treatment. IV antibiotics may be needed if the infection is caused by Staphylococcus aureus infection, which is resistant to methicillin.

Other treatment choices may be:

  • Removal of devices like catheters or tubes if that is the cause of infection.
  • Pus drainage by cutting the site and draining the pus.

Do not self-treat when there is a staph infection in toddlers, as improper usage of antibiotics makes the bacteria resistant to antibiotics and makes common antibiotics useless at treating staph infections.

Must Read : Skin Struggles: A Spotlight on Common Childhood Skin Problems

Prevention of Staph Infection in Kids

Staph infection happens through skin wounds. Those infected with this bacterium may deposit germs on clothes, utensils, furniture, etc. Even healthy people can spread the germs. So, choose the following measures to prevent staph infection from spreading.

  • Follow proper hygiene by asking the child to sanities and wash their hands. Dry the hands with a clean towel.
  • If you are looking after a kid with a staph infection, ensure that you wash your hands before and after handling the bandage or the wound.
  • Do not share personal items like towels, utensils, clothes, etc., with an infected person. Teach the child the same.
  • Ensure that the daycare Centre you send is clean. Ask your child to shower after contact sports and use hot water to wash clothes.
  • Protect your child from bug bites, sunburn or injury as the bacteria enter the body through the skin cuts.
  • Clean and cover the wound with a bandage till it is healed.
  • Identify the signs and seek medical help, as staph can lead to serious problems.


1.How do you treat staph in toddlers?

Mild infections can be treated with topical ointments or antibiotics.

2. How can staph be prevented?

By following proper hygiene, not sharing personal items and ensuring the daycare centres are kept clean.

3. How do toddlers get staph infections?

They can get infected by contact with other kids who have an infection. Sharing food and personal items can also be the reason for staph infections in kids.

4. What is the best treatment for staph infection?

Topical antibiotic ointments and creams are the best treatment for staph infection

Want to consult the Best Pediatricians in India? Please find the links below.

  1. ‍Best Pediatricians in Bangalore
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  3. Best Pediatric Doctor in Mumbai
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  5. Best Child Specialist doctor in Chandigarh
  6. Top Pediatrician near me in Gurgaon
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  10. Top Pediatrician doctors in Panchkula
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