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Treatment of severe skin and soft tissue infections: a review

Burnham, Jason, P.a; Kollef, Marin, H.b

Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases: April 2018 - Volume 31 - Issue 2 - p 113–119
doi: 10.1097/QCO.0000000000000431

Purpose of review To review the salient features of the management of severe skin and soft tissue infections (SSTIs), including toxic shock syndrome, myonecrosis/gas gangrene, and necrotizing fasciitis.

Recent findings For severe SSTIs, intensive care, source control, and broad-spectrum antimicrobials are required for the initial phase of illness. There is an increasing focus on the utility of rapid diagnostic tests to help in selection and de-escalation of antimicrobials for SSTIs. In addition, clinical prediction scores have shown promise in helping predict patients who do not require antimicrobials directed against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Immune status has been shown to be important in clinical outcomes of some, but not all types of SSTIs. The debate for benefits of intravenous immunoglobulin continues to be waged in the recent literature.

Summary Severe SSTIs are common and their management complex due to regional variation in predominant pathogens and antimicrobial resistance patterns, as well variations in host immune responses. Unique aspects of care for severe SSTIs are discussed including the role of surgical consultation and source control. The unique features of SSTIs in immunocompromised hosts are also described.

aDepartment of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases

bDepartment of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Correspondence to Marin H. Kollef, MD, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, 4523 Clayton Ave, Campus Box 8052, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA. Tel: +1 314 454 8764; fax: +1 314 454 5571; e-mail:

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