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Stevens Johnson Syndrome

Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS) is a rare and potentially fatal disease of the skin and mucous membrane as a result of medications or infections that is commonly treated in a burn unit of a hospital. SJS is always treated as a medical emergency which usually requires hospitalization, where interventions are geared towards eliminating underlying causes, controlling symptoms and minimizing complications.

Individuals with SJS may present with facial swelling, tongue swelling, hives, skin pain, skin rash, blisters on the skin, and sloughing off of the skin. A skin biopsy may clinch the diagnosis.

Treatment Options

The following treatment options may be available for Stevens – Johnson Syndrome.

Ceasing Use of Medications Linked to SJS – Physicians may ask those affected to stop all existing medications that may have caused the SJS because it may be difficult to determine which drug triggered the SJS flare up.

Supportive Care – There is no standard treatment regimen for SJS. Thus, supportive care may be given during hospitalizations. Fluid replacement is important to prevent dehydration due to the inflamed skin. Nutrition via nasogastric tubing may be required for those who experience difficulty in eating.

Wound and Eye Care – Wounds and blisters may benefit from cold and wet compress to moisturize the skin. Surgeons may remove dead skins from the lesions. In SJS, the eyes are usually affected. Thus, a consult with an ophthalmologist may be necessary.

Medications –Medications may be used to manage SJS, including: 1) Analgesics to relieve pain, 2) Anti-Histamines to stop allergies, 3) Antibiotics to stop infections, and 4) Topical or intravenous steroids to control skin inflammations. Intravenous Immunoglobulins (IVIG) are medications that may halt the progression of SJS.

Skin Grafting – In select instances, the transfer of healthy skin or synthetic skin to the affected site may be necessary to expedite the rate of healing in SJS skin lesions.

The Outcome of SJS

Milder forms of Stevens Johnson Syndrome may recover in two to three months with treatment, but may consequently recur. In severe cases of SJS, the mortality rate may rise up to 30% of all cases. Healed scars may be permanently disfiguring and distressing to those affected.

It is important to recognize that medications and medical procedures are associated with benefits and risks that should be discussed with your physician. It is important to recognize that all information contained on this website cannot be considered to be specific medical diagnosis, medical treatment, or medical advice. As always, you should consult with a physician regarding any medical condition. Your Health Access disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.