- Toxic shock syndrome could cause heart failure
- Bacteria spread toxins in the bloodstream
- Commonly linked to using tampons for too long
- A cut or scratch could be enough to become infected
A scratch or cut could lead to toxic shock syndrome, which is caused by bacteria getting into the body and spreading harmful toxins.
While most commonly associated with using a tampon too long in women, it can also affect both men and children.
The condition is caused by the same bacteria that cause mild skin and throat infections, cellulitis and impetigo.
A break in the skin, from either a cut, insect bite or boil, could be enough to cause the deadly condition, according to the NHS.
To become infected by toxic shock syndrome, bacteria need an environment where they can grow. They normally grow harmlessly on the skin, nose or mouth.
The toxins must also have a way of getting into the bloodstream, from a cut or scratch.
It could also get deeper into the body by leaving in tampons too long, or by using super-absorbent tampons.
Childbirth or using nasal packing could also lead to infection.
The best way to reduce the risk of contracting the condition is to treat wounds quickly, and to seek medical help if signs of an infection appear. They include swelling and redness.
Women should always use a tampon with the lowest absorbency suitable for their flow, the NHS urged.
Changing tampons regularly also reduces the chance of getting toxic shock syndrome.
Antibiotics could be used to treat the infection, but in severe cases, surgery may be recommended to get rid of any dead tissue. Amputating some areas may also be necessary.
Symptoms of the condition begin very suddenly, and get worse quickly.
A high fever, coming, flu-like symptoms, diarrhoea and difficulty breathing are all signs of toxic shock syndrome.
Skin can become very pale and clammy, and patients could lose consciousness.
Toxic shock syndrome is a medical emergency, the NHS said. While the symptoms may be caused by another illness, you should contact your GP if you think you may have the bacterial infection.