staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome

GC: n

S: WHO – (last access: 22 March 2018); Medscape – (last access: 23 March 2018).

N: 1. – staphylococcal (adj): From the noun staphylococcus (New Latin, from Greek staphylē bunch of grapes + New Latin -coccus).

  • First Known Use: 1900.
  • of, relating to, caused by, or being a staphylococcus.
  • of, relating to, caused by, or being a staphylococcus staphylococcal infection a staphylococcal organism.

– scalded (adj): From the past participle of the verb scald c. 1200, “to be very hot; to afflict painfully with hot liquid or steam,” from Old North French escalder “to scald, to scorch” (Old French eschalder “heat, boil up, bubble,” Modern French échauder), from Late Latin excaldare “bathe in hot water” (source also of Spanish escaldar, Italian scaldare “heat with hot water”), from Latin ex “out, out of” + calidus “hot” (from PIE root *ke “warm”). The noun scald is c. 1600, from the verb.
– skin (n): c. 1200, “animal hide” (usually dressed and tanned), from Old Norse skinn “animal hide, fur,” from Proto-Germanic *skinth- (source also of Old English scinn (rare), Old High German scinten, German schinden “to flay, skin;” German dialectal schind “skin of a fruit,” Flemish schinde “bark”), from PIE *sken- “to peel off, flay” (source also of Breton scant “scale of a fish,” Irish scainim “I tear, I burst”), extended form of root *sek- “to cut.”
– syndrome (n): “a number of symptoms occurring together,” 1540s, from medical Latin, from Greek syndrome “concurrence of symptoms, concourse of people,” from syndromos “place where several roads meet,” literally “a running together,” from syn- “with” + dromos “a running, course” (see dromedary). Psychological sense is from 1955.
2. Staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome (SSSS) is an illness characterised by red blistering skin that looks like a burn or scald, hence its name staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome. SSSS is caused by the release of two exotoxins (epidermolytic toxins A and B) from toxigenic strains of the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. Desmosomes are the part of the skin cell responsible for adhering to the adjacent skin cell. The toxins bind to a molecule within the desmosome called Desmoglein 1 and break it up so the skin cells become unstuck.
3. Who is at risk of staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome?
SSSS occurs mostly in children younger than 5 years, particularly neonates (newborn babies). Lifelong protective antibodies against staphylococcal exotoxins are usually acquired during childhood which makes SSSS much 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) make neonates the most at risk.
Immunocompromised individuals and individuals with renal failure, regardless of age, may also be at risk of SSSS.
4. How do you get staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome?
SSSS starts from a localised staphylococcal infection that is a producer of the two causative exotoxins (epidermolytic toxins A and B). Outbreaks of SSSS often occur in childcare facilities. An asymptomatic adult carrier of Staphylococcus aureus introduces the bacteria into the nursery. About 15-40% of healthy humans are carriers of Staphylococcus aureus, that is, they have the bacteria on their skin without any sign of infection or disease (colonisation). However, staphylococcal skin infections are seen commonly in infants and younger children, thus an obvious increased risk of SSSS. Staphylococcus aureus is also commonly found in infections of the throat, ears and eyes
5. The staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome usually occurs in children less than 5 years old, whereas drug-induced toxic epidermal necrolysis is considered a disease of adults.1 Except for the age differential, the two often cannot be distinguished clinically. Therefore, rapid and definitive biopsy diagnosis is essential in the management of patients with acute exfoliative skin disorders. We wish to report the case of a young child with proven toxic epidermal necrolysis and review the manifestations of this disease, as well as the staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome.
6. Cultural Interrelation: We could mention episode 4 Maternity from the TV series (2004-2012) House M. D. (season 1).

S: 1. OED –;; (last access: 23 March 2018); MW –; (last access: 23 March 2018). 2 to 4. (last access: 23 March 2018). 5. (last access: 26 March 2018). 6.,_M.D./Maternity (last access: 23 March 2018).

GV: staphylococcal scalded-skin syndrome

S: TERMIUM PLUS – (last access: 23 March 2018)

SYN: Ritter disease, Ritter’s disease, Ritter’s syndrome.

S: TERMIUM PLUS – (last access: 23 March 2018)

CR: toxic epidermal necrolysis, biopsy