A 17-month-old girl with a history of eczema presents to the pediatric emergency department for evaluation of a rash. The rash is different from her usual eczema, developed three days prior to presentation, and is described as red with yellow crusting. Her mother also noticed blistering in her groin and under her axilla. She has associated fussiness and decreased feeding, but no fever.
Staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome caused by impetigo.
This case describes a patient with a rash, blistering/desquamation of axilla and groin, and systemic symptoms consistent with staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome (SSSS). Clinical features of SSSS include erythema to intertriginous areas, rapid progression of erythema, and systemic symptoms such as fever, irritability, and poor oral intake. Mucous membranes are not typically involved. Physical exam findings include perioral crusting and fissuring (seen in photo), blanching erythema, desquamation, shallow skin erosions, and a positive Nikolsky sign. SSSS is caused by exfoliative toxin A (ETA) and exfoliative toxin B (ETB), two exotoxins produced by certain strains of S. aureus. ETA and ETB cause the breakdown of keratinocyte adhesions within the epidermis, leading to desquamation. Infection with S. aureus at any site can cause SSSS, including bacterial conjunctivitis, wound/skin infection, staphylococcal pneumonia, pyomyositis, septic arthritis, and endocarditis. SSSS is more common in children, a phenomenon thought to be due to a lack of protective antibodies against staphylococcal antigens. The diagnosis of SSSS is clinical but can be confirmed with histopathology. In this case, the extensive yellow, crusting lesions of the face suggest impetigo, a superficial skin infection predominantly caused by S. aureus, as the etiology of SSSS. Children with eczema are at increased risk of impetigo due to disruption of the normal skin barrier. Complications of SSSS include fluid losses due to extensive skin breakdown, electrolyte abnormalities, sepsis, and death.
Penicillinase-resistant penicillins (oxacillin, nafcillin) or first- or second-generation cephalosporins. Clindamycin monotherapy should be avoided due to high rates of resistance. Management of SSSS in most cases also includes hospitalization for IV antibiotics and supportive care. In patients with significant skin involvement, admission to either an ICU or burn unit is warranted for close monitoring and wound care.
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