What are streptococcal (strep) infections?
Streptococcus (simply called strep) is a common group of bacteria. Different types of strep cause different diseases. Most often they cause sore throat Sore Throat Sore throat is pain in the back of the throat. The pain can be severe and is usually worsened by swallowing. Many people with sore throat refuse to eat or drink. Sometimes pain is also felt... read more (strep throat) or skin infections. But they can cause life-threatening infections in other parts of your body.
Streptococcus bacteria can live in and on your body without causing symptoms
Infection can happen in your throat, middle ear, sinuses, lungs, skin, tissue under your skin, heart valves, and blood
Infections can cause red and painful swollen tissues, scabby sores, sore throat, and a rash
Doctors treat streptococcal infections with antibiotics
What causes strep infections?
Streptococcus bacteria can spread from person to person by:
Breathing in infected droplets from someone’s sneeze or cough
Touching an infected sore
Giving birth, where it can spread from mother to baby
What are the symptoms of strep infections?
You have different symptoms depending on where you have the infection:
Throat infection (strep throat): Sore throat, swollen lumps in your neck, fever, pus on your tonsils
Skin infection: A painful red area on your skin (cellulitis Cellulitis Cellulitis is characterized by red, warm areas on the skin. Sometimes blisters form. Cellulitis is a bacterial infection in your skin. Cellulitis is a common skin infection that can spread quickly... read more ), or yellow, crusty sores (impetigo Impetigo and Ecthyma Impetigo is a superficial skin infection, caused by Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes, or both, that leads to the formation of scabby, yellow-crusted sores and, sometimes, small... read more )
Infection under your skin (necrotizing fasciitis Necrotizing Skin Infections Necrotizing skin infections, including necrotizing cellulitis and necrotizing fasciitis, are severe forms of cellulitis characterized by death of infected skin and tissues (necrosis). The infected... read more ): Chills, fever, and severe pain and tenderness in the part of your body that’s infected
Necrotizing fasciitis is very serious. You could get gangrene Gas Gangrene Gas gangrene is a life-threatening infection of muscle tissue caused mainly by the anaerobic bacteria Clostridium perfringens and several other species of clostridia. Gas gangrene can develop... read more and lose an arm or leg or even die.
What are the complications of strep infections?
Rheumatic fever gives you painful, swollen joints. Children with rheumatic fever may have uncontrollable, jerky movements of their arms and legs. Rheumatic fever sometimes damages the heart's valves. But heart valve damage usually doesn't show up for many years.
Scarlet fever gives you a rash on your face, then the rest of your body. The rash feels like sandpaper. When it fades, your skin peels. Your tongue gets red bumps, so it looks like a strawberry (called strawberry tongue).
How can doctors tell if I have a strep infection?
Doctors will test a swab from your sore throat or other infected tissue.
How do doctors treat strep infections?
Doctors treat strep infections with antibiotics.
For necrotizing fasciitis, you'll be admitted to the hospital and have surgery to take out the dead, infected tissue.