Toxic Shock Syndrome

NHS

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a rare but life-threatening condition caused by an infection. It can happen when using a tampon or menstrual cup, or from an infected wound. Symptoms develop quickly and you need urgent treatment. Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) can come on quickly.

Symptoms include:

  • a high temperature
  • muscle aches
  • a raised skin rash that feels like sandpaper
  • flu-like symptoms

What causes toxic shock syndrome

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a rare infection. It's possible to get TSS:

  • from using tampons or menstrual cups
  • from a contraceptive diaphragm or cap
  • after a vaginal birth or caesarean section
  • from a cut, wound, boil or burn that has become infected

Your chances of getting TSS are higher if you've had it before.

Treatments for toxic shock syndrome

You'll need urgent hospital treatment for toxic shock syndrome (TSS). Treatment can include:

  • antibiotics to treat the infection
  • fluids to rehydrate you, usually through a drip in your arm
  • medicine to help control your blood pressure
  • oxygen
  • surgery to remove infection from cuts or wounds

How to prevent toxic shock syndrome

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is rare, but there are things you can do to reduce your chance of catching or spreading a bacterial infection.

Do

  • wash your hands and follow the instructions when using tampons, menstrual cups, contraceptive caps and diaphragms, and do not leave them in longer than needed or recommended
  • keep cuts and burns clean, and look out for signs of infection, such as a rash, swelling or pain

If you've had TSS before, your doctor may advise you not to use tampons, contraceptive caps or diaphragms.

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