Staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome: Clinical features, ancillary testing, and patient management

Pediatr Dermatol. 2022 Nov;39(6):908-913. doi: 10.1111/pde.15102. Epub 2022 Aug 16.


Background/objectives: The utility of ancillary testing in improving diagnostic precision or improving patient outcomes in staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome (SSSS) is unclear. Similarly, an optimal antibiotic regimen has yet to be established. Our goal was to describe clinical characteristics and ancillary work-up of SSSS, report bacterial resistance patterns, and examine patient outcomes under varying therapeutic strategies with the aim of developing an evidence-based management algorithm.

Methods: We performed a retrospective review of pediatric patients diagnosed with SSSS at Intermountain Healthcare facilities between 2010 and 2021. A Kruskal-Wallis rank sum test was used to assess median length of stay between different antibiotic regimens.

Results: Eighty-five cases were identified. The most common ancillary tests obtained were a complete blood count (88%), followed by chemistry analysis (80%). Blood cultures were collected in more patients (79%) compared to aerobic cultures (60%). No blood culture was positive for Staphylococcus aureus. All S. aureus isolates were methicillin-sensitive. Of those found resistant to clindamycin (36%), all demonstrated macrolide-induced clindamycin resistance. None were constitutively resistant to clindamycin. There was no statistical difference between antibiotic regimen and length of stay (p = .691). Receiving opiate medications was the only risk factor associated with prolonged hospitalization (p = .001).

Conclusions: Ancillary testing does not improve diagnostic precision and can be reduced. Clindamycin does not improve patient outcomes, suggesting beta-lactams should be considered first line. Susceptibility patterns in our cohort demonstrate inducible clindamycin resistance as opposed to constitutive.

Keywords: antibiotics; clindamycin; length of stay; staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome; treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Clindamycin / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Staphylococcal Infections*
  • Staphylococcal Scalded Skin Syndrome* / diagnosis
  • Staphylococcal Scalded Skin Syndrome* / drug therapy
  • Staphylococcus aureus


  • Clindamycin
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents