Steven Johnson Syndrome – Pictures, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Steven-Johnson syndrome is an uncommon and severe condition characterized by an adverse reaction of mucous membranes and the skin to an infection or to a particular drug. In most cases, it starts with the symptom of flu-like fever, which is followed by the appearance of a red or purple colored painful rash. Afterwards, the rash spreads and forms blisters. As a result, the uppermost skin layer decays and falls off.

A person affected by Stevens-Johnson syndrome has to be hospitalized and undergo emergency treatments. The target of treatment is to manage the symptoms, remove the cause of the symptoms, and curtail further complications.

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Depending on the severity of the disorder, the recovery may take a few weeks or months. If it is found that a drug was the cause for the reaction, then its intake should be stopped immediately.

Symptoms of Steven-Johnson syndrome

The signs and symptoms of Stevens-Johnson syndrome are as follows:

  • Formation of hives
  • Swelling of the face and tongue
  • The soft mucous membranes and skin may develop blisters, particularly areas such as the nose, mouth, and eyes.
  • The affected skin may be painful
  • The outer skin may decay and fall off
  • Reddish or purplish rash may spread quickly within hours or days.

People affected by Stevens-Johnson syndrome may have the following symptoms prior to formation of the rashes:

  • Flu-like fever
  • Soreness of throat
  • Cough
  • Burning sensation in the eyes

The following are some of the complications experienced due to Stevens-Johnson syndrome:

  • Stevens-Johnson syndrome can result in ocular problems such as eye inflammation.Irritation and dry eyes are the signs of mild Stevens-Johnson syndrome. Acute and severe cases of Stevens-Johnson syndrome may cause tissue damage which may even result in blindness.
  • Severe infection of skin and the acute manifestation of secondary skin infections such as meningitis, cellulitis etc. are dangerous and life threatening. Meningitis is a dangerous condition which results in infection of fluid occurring around the spinal cord and brain, as well as infection of the membranes.
  • Stevens-Johnson syndrome can cause damage to the internal organs which may lead to lesion formation and result in inflammation of heart, lungs, kidneys, and liver.
  • A dangerous situation can also arise wherein bacteria enter the body via the infected wounds and causelife-threatening sepsis. It is possible for the bacteria to travel all across the body via the blood stream, thereby resulting in organ failures, coma or shock, and even fatalities.
  • Stevens-Johnson syndrome can cause multiple and lasting harm to the skin such as decay of skin;occurrence of pigmentation marks and irregular bumps; scarring of the skin; abnormal growth of the toe and fingernails; and hair fall followed by absent or decreased hair growth. Proper treatment of Stevens-Johnson syndrome can control the extent of damage and allow complete recovery.

Causes of Steven-Johnson syndrome

It is not possible to identify the causes of Stevens-Johnson syndromein all cases. However in most cases,the abnormalities are caused by an allergic reaction to medications, illness, or to an infection. Medications are the main cause for Stevens-Johnson syndrome. The following are some of themedicines known to cause the syndrome:

  • Various types of penicillin that are administered  to control infections
  • NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs which are consumed to reduce pain
  • Anticonvulsants which are given to control seizure disorders.
  • Anti-gout drugssuch as allopurinol

The following are some of the infections that can cause Stevens-Johnson syndrome:

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  • HIV
  • Typhoid
  • Herpes simplex or Herpes zoster
  • Influenza
  • Hepatitis
  • Diphtheria
  • In some cases, radiation therapy or exposure to ultraviolet rays

Certain factors that increase the risk of getting Stevens-Johnson syndrome are shown below:

  • Presence of conditions that reduce the immune system strength, such as HIV,lupus, and other disorders.
  • Persons with a gene called HLA-B12 are at greater risk to developing Stevens-Johnson syndrome.

Treatment of Steven-Johnson syndrome

Steven-Johnson syndrome is always considered as a serious condition and is treated as a case of emergency in the ICUor a burn unit.

As it is very difficult to locate the exact drug that is causing the irritation, as a first step, intake of all medications is stopped. Then, the following supportive care is given to a patient affected by Stevens-Johnson syndrome while he/she is in hospital:

  • The dead skin is removed and the wounds are dressed with the help of topical anesthetic.
  • When the wounds are getting healed, wet and cool compresses are used to soothe them
  • Enough inflow of fluids into the body is ensured via medical and manual methods, so as to compensate for the loss of fluids experience by a patient of Stevens-Johnson syndrome
  • The doctor may treatitching with antihistamines; control the inflammation by providing topical steroids; and manage infection with antibiotics and pain killers.
  • An eye doctor may be consulted to prevent any damage to the eyes.
  • In cases involving extensive damage of the skin, doctors may opt for skin grafting to repair and rejuvenate it.

Steven Johnson Syndrome Pictures


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