Stevens-Johnson syndrome is a rare and serious mucous membranes and skin disorder. It’s often a reaction to a drug or as a result of an infection.
Sometimes, Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) starts with flu-like symptoms. And is followed by a painful purple or reddish which spreads and blisters. Then the upper layer of the affected skin dies and sheds.
This skin disorder is a medical emergency. And also need hospitalization. Treatment focuses on controlling the symptoms, killing the underlying cause and also minimizing complications.
Recovery after Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) may take weeks to months. This often depends on the severity of your condition. If it was caused by a drug, you’ll need to completely avoid that drug and others closely related to it.
This skin disorder has a rare and unpredictable reaction. Your doctor may be unable to identify its real cause. But often times, it is triggered by an infection or a drug.
Drug And Therapy Causes
Drugs that may lead to Stevens-Johnson syndrome include:
- Like acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), naproxen sodium (Aleve) and ibuprofen (Motrin IB, Advil, others).
- Anti-gout drugs. Like allopurinol.
- Drugs to fight infection. Like penicillin.
- Drugs to treat seizures or mental illness (antipsychotics and anticonvulsants).
- Radiation therapy
Infections that lead to Stevens-Johnson syndrome include:
- Herpes (herpes simplex or herpes zoster)
Read previous articles on Acne, Eczema, Seborrheic dermatitis, Diaper rash, Lyme disease and Jock itch.
Symptoms Of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS)
- Facial swelling
- Ski pain
- Inflamed Tongue
- A purple or reddish skin rash that also spreads within hours to days.
- Shedding of the skin.
- Blisters on the skin and the mucous membranes of nose, mouth, eyes and also genitals.
If you have Stevens-Johnson syndrome, some days before the rash starts you may experience:
- Sore mouth
- Sore throat
- Burning eyes
When To Visit A Doctor
This skin disorder needs fast medical attention. Get emergency medical care if you have of the following signs or symptoms:
- Inflamed tongue
- Unexplained widespread skin pain
- Blisters found on the skin and also mucous membrane
- Facial swelling
- Shedding of the skin
- A purple or reddish skin rash that spreads
Some factors increase your risk of getting Stevens-Johnson syndrome. They include:
- A weak immune system. Your immune system can become affected by HIV/AIDS, an organ transplant and also autoimmune diseases like lupus.
- Viral infections.Viral diseases like hepatitis, herpes, viral pneumonia and HIV also increases your risk for Stevens-Johnson syndrome.
- A history of Stevens-Johnson syndrome.If you’ve had a drug-related type of this disorder, you are also at risk of a recurrence when you use that drug again.
- When you have a certain gene. If you have a certain gene known as HLA-B 1502, your risk also increases. This is also particular if you take some drugs for seizures or mental illness. Families of Indian, Chinese and Southeast Asian are also more likely to carry to the gene.
- A family history of the condition. If a close family member has had the condition or a related skin condition known as toxic epidermal necrolysis, you may be more prone to getting Stevens-Johnson syndrome too.
Some of the complications include:
- Blood infection (Sepsis). This happens when the bacteria from the infection enters your bloodstream, spreading all over your body. Sepsis can cause shock and also organ failure.
- Permanent skin damage. When your skin recovers from the condition, it may also have scars, abnormal coloring and also bumps. Some lasting skin issues may also cause your hair to fall out. Also, your toenails and fingernails may not grow normally.
- Secondary skin infection (cellulitis).This can also cause life-threatening problems like sepsis.
- Damage to the internal organs. It’s rare for this disorder to affect the internal organs. It may also cause inflammations to the heart, lungs, liver and also kidney.
- Eye problems
Tests And Diagnosis
Some of the tests and procedures used to diagnose Stevens-Johnson syndrome include:
- Skin test
- Physical exam
Treatments And Drugs
Stevens-Johnson syndrome needs hospitalization. Sometimes in a burn unit or an intensive care unit.
Stopping Non-Essential Drugs
The first and most important step in treating this condition is to stop any drugs that may be causing it. Since it’s hard to know exactly which drug may be causing the problem, your doctor may advise that you stop taking all non-essential drugs.
The care you’re likely to get while in the hospital includes:
- Eye care. You may also see an ophthalmologist (eye specialist).
- Fluid replacement
- Wound care
Drugs often used in the treatment of Stevens-Johnson syndrome include:
- Drugs to relieve itching.
- Pain drugs to reduce discomfort.
- To control the infection.
- Topical steroids. Drugs to decrease skin inflammation.
When the underlying cause of this condition is stopped and the skin reaction also stopped, new skin may start to grow over the affected part within some days. In severe cases, full recovery may take several months.