Skip to main content

Health Encyclopedia

Search the Health Encyclopedia

Scalded skin syndrome

Definition

Scalded skin syndrome is a skin infection caused by bacteria in which the skin becomes damaged and sheds.

Alternative Names

Ritter disease; Staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome (SSS)

Causes

Scalded skin syndrome (SSS) is caused by infection with certain strains of Staphylococcus bacteria. The bacteria produce a toxin that causes the skin damage. The damage creates blisters, as if the skin were scalded. These blisters can occur;at areas of the skin away from the initial site.

SSS is found most commonly in infants and children under the age of 5.

Symptoms

Symptoms may include any of the following:

  • Blisters
  • Fever
  • Large areas of skin peel or fall away (exfoliation or desquamation)
  • Painful skin
  • Redness of the skin (erythema), which spreads to cover most of the body
  • Skin slips off with gentle pressure, leaving wet red areas (Nikolsky sign)

Exams and Tests

The health care provider will perform a physical exam and look at the skin. The exam may show that the skin slips off when it is rubbed (positive Nikolsky sign).

Tests may include:

Treatment

Antibiotics are given by mouth or through a vein (intravenously; IV) to help fight the infection. IV fluids are also given to prevent dehydration. Much of the body's fluid is lost through open skin.

Moist compresses to the skin may improve comfort. You can apply a moisturizing ointment to keep the skin moist. Healing begins about 10 days after treatment.

Outlook (Prognosis)

A full recovery is expected.

Possible Complications

Complications that may result include:

  • Abnormal level of fluids in the body causing dehydration or electrolyte imbalance
  • Poor temperature control (in young infants)
  • Severe bloodstream infection (septicemia)
  • Spread to deeper skin infection (cellulitis)

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider or go to the emergency room if you have symptoms of this disorder.

Prevention

The disorder may not be preventable. Treating any staphylococcus infection quickly can help.

References

Koch D, Taibjee SM. Staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome. In: Lebwohl MG, Heymann WR, Berth-Jones J, Coulson I, eds. Treatment of Skin Disease: Comprehensive Therapeutic Strategies. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 223.

Paller AS, Mancini AJ. Bacterial, mycobacterial, and protozoal infections of the skin. In: Paller AS, Mancini AJ, eds. Hurwitz Clinical Pediatric Dermatology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 14.

Review Date:12/10/2015
Reviewed By:Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

adam.com

The Agency for Health Care Administration (Agency) and this website do not claim the information on, or referred to by, this site is error free. This site may include links to websites of other government agencies or private groups. Our Agency and this website do not control such sites and are not responsible for their content. Reference to or links to any other group, product, service, or information does not mean our Agency or this website approves of that group, product, service, or information.

Additionally, while health information provided through this website may be a valuable resource for the public, it is not designed to offer medical advice. Talk with your doctor about medical care questions you may have.

Health
Outcome Data

No data available for this condition/procedure.

Read More

Cellulitis *

Fever *

Septicemia *

Skin blushing/flushing


* Has Related Health Outcome Information

Health Encyclopedia

More Features

We Appreciate Your Feedback!
1. Did you find this information useful?
         Yes
         No
2. Would you recommend this website to family and friends?
         Yes
         No