A Teenager Almost Died of Toxic Shock Syndrome From Wearing a Tampon to Bed

By  | 

Toxic Shock Syndrome is like the bogeyman for teenagers. From the moment you first get your period, the big warning on the side of the tampon box looms over every menstrual cycle. Is TSS real, or is it just the tampon company’s way of trying to make us not use one tampon for 10 days? How long can you leave a tampon in, anyway? Does it really have to come out after 8 hours, or is 10 OK if you feel like sleeping in? Did your friend really know a girl who knew a girl who got TSS? How do you know if you’re dying? Starting one’s period is weird and complicated at the best of times, and adding a big warning about the risk of death just makes it seem even weirder. But Toxic Shock Syndrome is actually real, and a woman in the U.K. says her teenage daughter very nearly died of it after sleeping in a tampon.

According to Good Housekeeping, 14-year-old Molly Pawlett says she woke up on April 10 feeling like she had a bit of a bug, but she was also getting a weird, flat, red rash on her body.

Her mother, who is much more on the ball than I have ever been, asked if she was wearing a tampon, and told her to take it out right away.

“At first I assumed Molly had a bug, but for some reason I had strange feeling it was something more serious,” Sonia Pawlett said.

Molly had worn a tampon overnight, and it had been in for about 10 hours when this happened.

Molly was rushed to the hospital and doctors say her kidneys were already starting to shut down from sepsis. She was put in intensive care and fortunately she was able to be stabilized. She still had to spend five days in the hospital before going home, and she’s still recovering from the infection.

Toxic shock syndrome is rare, but symptoms include a red mouth and tongue, fever, fainting, and a skin rash. It’s associated with wearing a tampon longer than recommended, especially the super-plus absorbency variety. Doctors recommend wearing the lowest possible absorbency tampon and removing them every four to eight hours.