Toxic shock syndrome is a rare, life-threatening complication of certain types of bacterial infections.


Bacteria, most commonly Staphylococcus aureus (staph), causes toxic shock syndrome. It can also be caused by group A streptococcus (strep) bacteria.

Toxic shock syndrome can affect men, children and postmenopausal women. Risk factors for toxic shock syndrome include skin wounds and surgery.


  • A sudden high fever
  • Low blood pressure
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • A rash resembling a sunburn, particularly on your palms and soles
  • Confusion
  • Muscle aches
  • Redness of your eyes, mouth and throat
  • Seizures
  • Headaches


If you develop toxic shock syndrome, you’ll likely be hospitalized. In the hospital, you’ll be treated with antibiotics while doctors seek the infection source. Receive medication to stabilize your blood pressure if it’s low and fluids to treat dehydration

The toxins produced by the staph or strep bacteria and accompanying hypotension may result in kidney failure. If your kidneys fail, you may need dialysis.

Surgery may be necessary to remove nonliving tissue from the site of infection or to drain the infection.

Toxic shock syndrome is a potentially life-threatening condition. If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, seek medical help immediately.