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Staphylococcal Scalded Skin Syndrome is an illness that is characterized by red blistered skin that looks like a burn or a scald. It is caused by the release of two exotoxins (epidermolysis toxin A and B) from toxigenic strains of the bacteria staphylococcus aureus.

It occurs mostly in children younger than 5 years, particularly neonates (new-born babies). It usually starts with fever, irritability and widespread redness of skin within 24-48 hours fluid-filled blistered form. These rapture easily, leaving an area that looks like a burn.


Tissue paper-like wrinkling is followed by the appearance of large fluid-filled blisters (bullae) in the armpits, groin and body orifices such as nose and ears. Also rash spreads to other parts of the body including the arms, legs and trunk. In new borns, lesions are often found in the diaper area or around the umbilical cord.                               

Lifelong protective antibodies against staphylococcal exotoxins are usually acquired during childhood which makes ssss less common in older children and adults. Lack of specific immunity to the toxins and an immature renal clearance system (toxins are primarily cleared from the body through the kidneys) makes neonates most at risk. Immunity comprise individuals and individuals with renal failure, regardless of age, may also be at risk of ssss.

Treatment of ssss usually requires hospitalisation, as intravenous antibiotics are general necessary to eradicate the staphylococcal infection.

 Therefore, once a person is infected, they are treated with oral antibiotics to eradicate the causative organism.

Story by Vicentia Obeng

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