Skin Home > Staph Infection Risk Factors

Although anyone can develop a staph infection, some people are more susceptible than others. For example, being overweight, living in unsanitary places, or participating in contact sports can all increase your risk. Being in the hospital also puts you at a higher risk of developing a staph infection, especially if you have had surgery recently or if you have a weakened immune system.

Understanding Risk Factors for a Staph Infection

Staph infections are caused by Staphylococcus bacteria. There are several dozen strains of staph bacteria. However, only a few usually cause infections in humans (see Staph Infection Causes).
One staph infection that has increased in importance within the past decade is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA for short). It is a strain of staph bacteria resistant to certain types of antibiotics. It is a less common, but potentially more serious, cause of the common "staph" infection.

Specific Staph Infection Risk Factors

Many people who develop a staph infection do not have any risk factors. However, there appear to be several factors that can increase a person's chances of developing this type of infection. Some of these things include:
  • Trauma to the skin (such as cuts, sores, shaving, insect bites, or "turf burns")
  • Participating in contact sports (particularly at risk are wrestlers, gymnasts, and those who play lineman or linebacker in football)
  • Shaving body hair
  • Physical contact with a person who has a draining cut or sore, or who is a carrier of Staphylococcus
  • Sharing towels, uniforms, razors, or other personal items or equipment that is not washed between users
  • Living in crowded or unsanitary places, such as prisons, military barracks, or homeless shelters
  • Using IV drugs or injecting drugs into the muscle ("skin popping")
  • Men who have sex with other men.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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