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Stevens Johnson Syndrome

Stevens Johnson Syndrome sufferer

Stevens Johnson syndrome (SJS) affects all mucus membranes on the body. SJS is a rare and serious condition that is often related to allergic reactions and hypersensitivity. The painful blistering and deterioration of skin and mucus membranes occur as the body attempts to expel the irritating substance through the skin.

Risk factors:

  • Cocaine use
  • Medication allergies
  • Viral or bacterial infection (HIV/AIDS, herpes, influenza, hepatitis)
  • Cancer treatment radiation therapy
  • Ginseng
  • The symptoms of blistering can affect all parts of the body that has mucus membranes. Mucus membranes are located in the eyes, mouth, nose, throat, vagina, urethra, digestive tract, and respiratory track. Other symptoms include blistering of skin, a red rash that spreads, and flu symptoms (aches, headache, fever, and coughing). When less than 10% of the body is involved, the condition is categorized as Stevens Johnson syndrome, when the symptoms involve 30% or more of the body it is labeled as Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis Syndrome (TENS). SJS/TENS is when there is between 10% and 30% involvement.

    A medical professional will diagnose Stevens Johnson Syndrome by taking a medical history, doing a physical examination, reviewing symptoms, and sometimes by taking a biopsy of the affected skin. The source of the allergic reaction will attempt to be identified and managed. Most often, it is an over-the-counter medication or prescription medication. The most common types of medications that cause SJS:

  • Antibiotics
  • Anti-convulsion
  • Pain relievers
  • Weight and hydration is monitored when the mouth is so severely affected that it interferes with eating and drinking.
    Treatment options:

  • Topical anesthetics
  • Over-the-counter pain medications
  • Prescription ointments and medications
  • Antibiotics
  • Fluid and nutritional supplements given by IV
  • Warm environment
  • Ophthalmologic consult
  • Recovery is slow and may take several weeks. When SJS is diagnosed within the first 48 hours, the duration is often shortened because the sufferer receives prompt treatment. Those with other medical complication may be at increased risk for rarely occurring death, organ damage, and blindness. When the source of the cause of Stevens Johnson Syndrome is identified, it is less likely to return.

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