Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Treatment of a staph infection may include:

  • Antibiotics. Your doctor may perform tests to identify what type of staph bacteria is behind your infection, and to help choose the antibiotic that will work best. Antibiotics commonly prescribed to treat staph infections include certain cephalosporins, nafcillin or related antibiotics, sulfa drugs or vancomycin.

    Vancomycin increasingly is required to treat serious staph infections because so many strains of staph bacteria have become resistant to other traditional medicines. But vancomycin and some other antibiotics have to be given intravenously.

    If you're given an oral antibiotic, be sure to take it as directed, and to finish all of the medication prescribed by your doctor. Ask your doctor what signs and symptoms you should watch for that might indicate your infection is worsening.

  • Wound drainage. If you have a skin infection, your doctor will likely make an incision into the sore to drain fluid that has collected there.
  • Device removal. If your infection involves a device or prosthetic, prompt removal of the device is needed. For some devices, removal might require surgery.

Antibiotic resistance

Staph bacteria are very adaptable, and many varieties have become resistant to one or more antibiotics. For example, only about 10 percent of today's staph infections can be cured with penicillin.

The emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of staph bacteria — often described as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains — has led to the use of alternative antibiotics with the potential for more side effects, such as vancomycin.

Jun. 11, 2014

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