There is a skin disease that makes it look like though the individual suffering from it has burns, and it’s aptly called staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome or SSSS for short. The name also makes it obvious which bacterium is responsible for it — staphylococcus, in particular staphylococcus aureus.
Also known by many other names such as Ritter disease, Ritter von Ritterschein disease and staphylococcal epidermal necrosis, SSSS is common in infants and very young children. However, it is very much possible for older kids and adults to suffer from it, too. Below you will find further information on SSSS.
Just like what’s said earlier, SSSS is brought about by the bacterium staphylococcus aureus. Actually, everyone has the said microbe on his or her skin without causing any issue. However, there can be a problem if staphylococcus aureus gets into a break in the skin as it may bring about an infection. By the way, experts say that staphylococcus aureus is the bacterium usually responsible for various ear, eye and throat infections.
In the case of SSSS, staphylococcus aureus does not actually get into a break in the skin. What happens is it releases toxins that cause unfavorable reactions. Individuals whose immune systems are weakened or kidneys are not in optimal shape (the kidneys help flush out those toxins) are at high risk of having SSSS.
Unlike other infections that are quite similar to it, SSSS does not usually affect the mucous membranes.
Signs and Symptoms
The affected areas of the body of a person with SSSS look like they are burned or scalded. In infants, the most commonly affected sites include the diaper area as well as around the umbilical cord. In older children, the area around the eyes, mouth and ears are the most common SSSS infection sites.
SSSS also tends to spread towards body parts that are usually moved, such as the arms and legs. It also affects areas where there are creases, such as the elbows, underarms and neck.
Initially, SSSS presents itself as fever, which is usually low grade. It’s not unlikely for the affected infant or young kid to be irritable as he or she is not feeling well, or it could be due to dehydration. The skin also tends to look reddish and may be somewhat wrinkled and feel rough to the touch. In just 24 to 48 hours, blisters that are filled with fluid form.
Eventually, the topmost layer of the skin peels off, usually in large sheets. This causes the layer underneath to be visible, which is moist, red and tender.
Hospitalization is usually done as antibiotics for SSSS is commonly administered intravenously. Newborns suffering from SSSS are usually placed in incubators.
There are times, however, when a doctor may replace the antibiotics with orally-taken ones, especially if the patient has responded very well to the initial treatment, and is actually capable of eating and drinking fluids. Other forms of treatment may be provided for the management of accompanying signs and symptoms. For instance, a doctor may give the patient paracetamol to control pain and fever, if present.
At home, petroleum jelly or any other ointment or cream recommended by a doctor may be applied on the affected areas of the body. It’s important to note that even though SSSS looks really unsightly, children usually recover from it very well, and it may take only about a week for the healing to commence after receiving treatment.
Provided that prompt and appropriate treatment is given, SSSS can be put under control. Otherwise, there are certain complications that may strike. Some of them include pneumonia, cellulitis (inflammation of the skin and subcutaneous tissue) and sepsis (life-threatening infection that has spread to the bloodstream).