Treating toxic shock syndrome 

If you have toxic shock syndrome (TSS) you will need to be admitted to hospital straight away and may need to be treated in an intensive care unit.

Most people will respond to treatment within a couple of days, but it may take several weeks before they are well enough to leave hospital.

There are two important goals in the treatment of toxic shock syndrome (TSS):

  • treating the infection
  • supporting any functions of the body that have been affected

Treating infection

The infection can normally be treated by a combination of antibiotics, which are given directly into the bloodstream via a drip (intravenously).

In some cases, immunoglobulin may also be given as well as antibiotics. Immunoglobulin is a sample of donated human blood known to contain a high level of antibodies, which can be used to fight the toxins produced by the bacteria.

Supporting the body

The following treatments may be needed in hospital to help stupport bodily functions:

  • oxygen – to support breathing
  • fluids – to help prevent dehydration and organ damage
  • medication – to help control blood pressure
  • dialysis – if the kidneys stop functioning, a dialysis machine is used to filter the blood

You may need to stay in the intensive care unit for monitoring.

Cleaning infected tissue

If the bacteria or toxins have damaged parts of the skin, or other extremities of the body such as the fingers or toes, the infected tissue will need to be drained and cleaned.

In extreme cases, it may be necessary to surgically remove parts of the skin or amputate (remove by surgery) an extremity of the body.


Page last reviewed: 03/09/2014

Next review due: 03/09/2016