Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) is a severe illness associated with fever and skin problems including rash, blisters, and ulcers. Although it can affect skin all over the body, a trademark of SJS are problems of the skin inside the mouth, nose, and eyes.
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SJS is caused by an overreaction of the immune system to certain medications. It is not certain what causes the overreaction but it may be linked to genetic factors.
Medications that are most often associated with SJS include: SulfonamidesAminopenicillinsQuinolonesCephalosporinsTetracyclinesImidazole antifungalsAromatic anticonvulsants
Other factors that may increase your chance of SJS include: Diseases that decrease your immunity like HIV and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)Certain genesRadiation therapy and taking anti-seizure medication to treat a brain tumorCertain infections such as HerpesInfluenzaDiphtheriaTyphoidHepatitis
SJS symptoms progress over time. Early symptoms may include: FeverSore throatCoughBurning eyes
After several days, the following symptoms may occur: A red or purple rash that spreadsSwelling of the face and tongueSkin painBlisters on the skin and the skin inside the mouth, nose, and eyesShedding of the skin
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. This will often result in a diagnosis.
A sample of skin may be tested. This can be done with a biopsy.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. You may be referred to a specialist for treatment depending on your symptoms.
Treatment options include:
Your doctor may advise you to stop taking medications that may be causing the condition.
If not related to your symptoms, you may be given: Pain medication to reduce discomfortAntihistamines to reduce itchingAntibiotics to treat an infection caused by bacteriaAntiviral medications to treat an infection caused by virusesTopical steroids to reduce swellingIV immunoglobulin (IVIG)
You may be given IV fluids at the hospital to replace lost fluids.
Treatments for the skin may include: Applying cool, wet compresses to blistersRemoving dead skinWound care
To help reduce your chance of getting SJS, avoid taking the medications that cause SJS to occur.
Stevens-Johnson syndrome. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/wilmer/conditions/stevens-johnson.html. Accessed October 3, 2013.
Stevens-Johnson syndrome. Patient UK website. Available at: http://www.patient.co.uk/doctor/stevens-johnson-syndrome. Updated November 2, 2012. Accessed October 3, 2013.
Stevens-Johnson Syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 17, 2011. Accessed October 3, 2013.
Last reviewed October 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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