Symptoms and Signs of Toxic Shock Syndrome

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 11/19/2021

Doctor's Notes on Toxic Shock Syndrome

Toxic shock syndrome is a severe illness associated with certain bacterial infections. The condition arises because of exotoxins secreted by Streptococcus or Staphylococcus bacteria. Many early outbreaks were described in women who used tampons during menstruation, but this accounts for less than half of cases overall. Risk factors for developing the condition, in addition to the use of tampons, include deep wound infections and decreased immune function.  

Symptoms and signs of toxic shock syndrome include high fever and a drop in blood pressure that subsequently can lead to organ failure. There may be a flat, red rash on the body or shedding of the skin. Other associated symptoms may include:

What Is the Treatment for Toxic Shock Syndrome?

Treatment of toxic shock syndrome includes hospitalization in an intensive care unit and may include:

  • Antibiotics to treat the infection, given intravenously
  • Surgery to clean any infected wounds
  • Oxygen and mechanical ventilation as needed
  • Medications to support blood pressure if needed
  • Dialysis, if kidney failure is present


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.