Scalded skin syndrome is a skin infection in which the skin becomes damaged and sheds itself. It is also termed ‘Ritter disease’ or ‘Staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome’ (SSS). Scalded skin syndrome is caused by an infection of the Staphylococcus bacteria. This causes poisonous damage to the skin and it blisters away, as if scalded or burnt.
Unfortunately, the disorder may not be preventable and usually affects children under the age of 6 and patients with renal failure or immuno-deficiency disorders.
It is however, treatable and the outlook or prognosis is usually good, with full expected recovery. The important element is to treat the infection as soon as possible.
The first step is to correctly diagnose the problem, as this illness often resembles other skin conditions. Delaying the diagnosis and treatment can unfortunately be lifethreatening.
Scalded skin syndrome is diagnosed through the use of a biopsy and a bacterial culture. A biopsy involves examining a skin sample under a microscope, and a bacterial culture involves growing the bacteria in a Petri dish to determine the nature of the infection and its possible course.
The John Hopkins Medicine Institute points out that a specific treatment for staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome will be determined based on:
• Patients age, overall health, and medical history
• Severity of the condition
• Patients tolerance to specific medications, procedures, or therapies
• Expectations for the course of the condition
• Patient and families opinion or preference
Here are some of the treatments used to cure ‘SSS’
Treatment usually requires hospitalization, often in the burn unit of the hospital as the risks of complications occurring are similar to those of children with burns. Intravenous antibiotics are essential to eradicate the staphylococcal infection and are given through a vein (intravenously) to help fight the infection. This is done primarily to reduce the infection and to prevent fluid loss and dehydration. Depending on response to treatment, oral antibiotics can be substituted within several days. The patient may be discharged from hospital to continue treatment at home.
The medical specialists usually follow this with topical treatments similar to those used on burn victims.Moist compresses are applied to the skin to improve comfort. Local care of the skin lesions is done, as the areas of damaged skin must be protected from infection. Antibiotic creams or gels may need to be applied, as well as bandages or dressings. The child may need to be isolated from other children for a brief time to prevent spread of the infection to others. A moisturizing ointment to keep the skin moist is subsequently applied.
Other supportive treatments after treating the initial symptoms often include:
• Paracetamol when necessary for fever and pain.
• Maintaining fluid and electrolyte intake.
• Skin care- as the skin is delicate and fragile.
As distressing as the illness is for most parents and children, it is heartening to note that with proper treatment, the condition should clear up in five to seven days. Fatal cases of scalded skin syndrome are very rare in children and treating this immediately is the best option.
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