The Skin Infection All Parents Should Know About

Keno may never remember the week he spent in the hospital as an infant but his mother, Mimi, won’t forget. At just four months old, Keno spent five days at Children’s Memorial Hermann at Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital where doctors treated him for staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome.

“I began to notice very light red patches all over his skin and was really concerned,” said Mimi. Doctors and nurses at his pediatrician’s office initially thought Keno may have been experiencing an eczema flareup and suggested his mother watch over him for the next 24 hours. A day later, Keno had not improved.  “I called his pediatrician and was very concerned because it appeared that the rash was getting worse,” said Mimi.

By now, Keno had developed a severe rash across his entire body and face and it wasn’t going away with time. His pediatrician, Dr. Gina Potts, with Memorial Hermann Medical Group Pediatrics in Sugar Land, prescribed oral antibiotics and advised Mimi to bring him back to the clinic if the rash did not improve.

Throughout the entire ordeal, Keno was very irritable and his mother knew something was not right. After the oral antibiotics didn’t work, Mimi returned to the pediatrician’s office as directed.. Dr. Potts immediately recognized that  Keno was experiencing a severe skin infection and sent him to the  Children’s Memorial Hermann pediatric emergency room at Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital. The doctors there examined him and ran blood and wound tests. He was diagnosed with staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome, admitted and started on IV antibiotics and fluids. His now open wounds were being  treated and he was given pain medications to help keep him comfortable.

What is scalded skin syndrome?

Staphylococcal Scalded Skin Syndrome (SSS) is a skin infection caused by certain strains of the staphylococcus bacteria that produce a toxin that damages the skin. The damage creates blisters and the skin appears as if it was burned and can slough off. Skin infections are common, but infants and children can present with more severe symptoms.

“Bacteria live on everyone’s skin.  These same bacteria can lead to infection if the skin has any condition that breaks the integrity of the skin.  The skin is our body’s first barrier against infection. If there is a break in the skin, this can allow the bacteria to “invade” and cause infection,” said Dr. Potts. She warns parents with children under the age of five to be mindful if you begin to notice something unusual occurring with your child’s skin, especially if they have a pre-existing skin condition.

Characteristics of scalded skin syndrome include:

  • Fever
  • Irritability
  • Fluid-filled blisters
  • Tissue paper-like wrinkling of the skin in the armpits, groin and body orifices such as around the nose and ears.
  • Top layer of skin peels off in sheets

“Scalded skin syndrome  can only truly be treated with antibiotics, so the quicker a child is seen by a doctor, the better their outcome,” Dr. Potts added.

Today, as he gets closer to his first birthday, Keno has made a full recovery thanks to the treatment he received.

“He’s a normal happy child now,” said Mimi. “I’m very appreciative of the doctors and caregivers who treated him.”

To learn more about pediatric emergency rooms, click here.

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