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, to help choose the antibiotic that will work best. Antibiotics sometimes prescribed to treat staph infections include cephalosporins, nafcillin or related antibiotics, sulfa drugs or intravenous 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 is effective for staph infections only when it's given intravenously.
  • Wound drainage. If you have a skin infection, your doctor may 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, less than 10 percent of today's staph infections can be cured with penicillin. Up to half the staph bacteria found in hospitals are resistant to cephalosporins and nafcillin, other common antibiotics.

The emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of staph bacteria — often described as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains — has led to the use of stronger and more-toxic antibiotics, such as vancomycin. A few strains of staph bacteria have become resistant to vancomycin, too.

Jun. 09, 2011