The pseudomonas hot-foot syndrome

N Engl J Med. 2001 Aug 2;345(5):335-8. doi: 10.1056/NEJM200108023450504.


Background: Between March and May 1998, there was an outbreak of a clinically distinct skin eruption on the soles of the feet of children who used a community wading pool.

Methods: We reviewed the medical records of 40 children in whom this syndrome developed between March and May 1998. We treated 17 children and advised the attending physicians on the care of the other 23. Follow-up data were obtained for up to one year.

Results: Exquisitely painful erythematous plantar nodules developed in 40 children (age, 2 to 15 years) within 40 hours after they had used a wading pool whose floor was coated with abrasive grit. Culture of the plantar pustules from one child yielded Pseudomonas aeruginosa with a pattern on pulsed-field gel electrophoresis that was identical to that of a strain of P. aeruginosa cultured from the pool water. A skin-biopsy specimen from this patient showed a perivascular and perieccrine neutrophilic infiltrate, and a specimen from another patient showed a dermal microabscess. Thirty-seven patients were treated symptomatically; three others were treated with cephalexin. All patients recovered within 14 days, but three children had recurrences of the painful plantar nodules within 24 hours after using the pool again. Folliculitis developed in one patient.

Conclusions: The "pseudomonas hot-foot syndrome" is characterized by the acute onset in children of exquisitely tender plantar nodules and a benign, self-limited course. This community outbreak developed after exposure to pool water containing high concentrations of P. aeruginosa.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alberta / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Female
  • Folliculitis / microbiology
  • Foot Dermatoses / epidemiology*
  • Foot Dermatoses / etiology
  • Foot Dermatoses / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pseudomonas Infections / epidemiology*
  • Pseudomonas Infections / etiology
  • Pseudomonas Infections / microbiology
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / isolation & purification
  • Recurrence
  • Skin Diseases, Bacterial / epidemiology*
  • Skin Diseases, Bacterial / etiology
  • Skin Diseases, Bacterial / microbiology
  • Swimming Pools*