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Stevens-Johnson Syndrome

(SJS)

Stee-vens Jon-son Sin-drom

Definition

Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) is a severe illness associated with fever, skin and mucous membrane 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.

Blisters

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes    TOP

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.

Risk Factors    TOP

Medications that are most often associated with SJS include:

  • Sulfonamides
  • Allopurinol
  • Aminopenicillins
  • Quinolones
  • Cephalosporins
  • Tetracyclines
  • Imidazole antifungals
  • Aromatic anticonvulsants

Other factors that may increase your chance of SJS include:

Symptoms    TOP

SJS symptoms progress over time. Early symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Burning eyes

After several days, the following symptoms may occur:

  • A red or purple rash that spreads
  • Swelling of the face and tongue
  • Skin pain
  • Blisters on the skin and the skin inside the mouth, nose, and eyes
  • Shedding of the skin

Diagnosis    TOP

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.

Treatment    TOP

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:

Medications

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 discomfort
  • Antihistamines to reduce itching
  • Oral steroids or IV immunoglobulin (IVIG) to treat the disease
  • Lubricating or antibiotic eye drops
  • Antibiotics to treat an infection caused by bacteria

Fluid Replacement

You may be given IV fluids at the hospital to replace lost fluids.

Skin Treatments    TOP

Treatments for the skin may include:

  • Applying cool, wet compresses to blisters
  • Removing dead skin
  • Wound care

Prevention    TOP

To help reduce your chance of getting SJS, avoid taking the medications that cause SJS to occur.

Resources:

Johns Hopkins Medicine
http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org
Shriners Hospitals for Children
http://www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org

Canadian Resources:

Canadian Dermatology Association
http://www.dermatology.ca

References:

Stevens-Johnson syndrome. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed December 12, 2017.
Stevens-Johnson syndrome. Patient UK website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated May 3, 2016. Accessed December 12, 2017.
Stevens-Johnson Syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated September 7, 2017. Accessed December 12, 2017.
Last reviewed December 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 12/20/2014

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