March 25, 2011

Symptoms & Treatment for Stevens Johnson Syndrome

Posted in Category : Natural Cures

Stevens Johnson syndrome is the name given to a serious allergic reaction to any drug or medication, which includes a rash and lesions in the cutaneous and mucous membranes of the body. Sulfa drugs, penicillin, or anti-inflammatory drugs can cause Stevens Johnson syndrome symptoms such as a breakout of the rash, followed by blisters and peeling of skin in large areas of the body. Virus infections such as herpes, hepatitis, and HIV could also be causes of Stevens Johnson syndrome in some people.

Considered a severe form of erythema multiforme, Stevens Johnson syndrome can result in a painful death, if it is not treated early. Complications can be blindness, lung damage, loss of cutaneous membranes, scaring of internal mucous membranes, asthma, and the inability to sweat and maintain body temperature because of skin damage. Based on clinical findings, the disease may be classified as erythema multiforme major or minor. Toxic epidermal necrolysis syndrome is another form of Stevens Johnson syndrome.

Treatment for Stevens Johnson syndrome should start as soon as diagnosis is made based on clinical examination of the purplish red rash and distribution of the lesions in the mucous membrane of the mouth, nostrils, eyes, and the genital region. Persistent fever with symptoms similar to a flu, swelling of eyes, rash, and blisters on the skin and mucous membranes are common Stevens Johnson syndrome symptoms. Those who exhibit these symptoms may be hospitalized in the burns unit of a hospital, because the peeling skin poses a risk of secondary infections and sepsis.

Efforts should be made to identify the drug or the infection that may be the cause of Stevens Johnson syndrome symptoms, and the offending drug should be stopped immediately. Until the drug is identified, all non-essential medication should be avoided. Antibiotics are used to treat patients with bacterial infection or to prevent the spread of infection. Corticosteroids may be used to reduce skin inflammation and anti-histamines to tackle the itch in the skin. Pain medication is necessary to dull the discomfort from the lesions. An ophthalmologist is called in case the patient has lesions in the eye. Ulcers in the mouth may impact food and fluid intake, and intravenous fluid replacement and nutrients may be needed. Skin loss may result in dehydration and so fluid replacement becomes essential.

Stevens Johnson syndrome can occur in people of all ages and races, though it is seen more often in children. Hence, awareness of Stevens Johnson syndrome symptoms is crucial for parents to ensure that their child gets prompt medical attention and avoids serious long-term damage to the body. Parents should keep a record of the child’s recent medical history detailing prescription medication given so that medical professionals can identify and stop the drug that may have caused the syndrome.

Once the underlying cause of the Stevens Johnson syndrome symptoms is treated and the allergy causing drug discontinued or the infection treated, the skin grows back on its own with time. However, complications resulting from the syndrome include uneven skin and nail growth, hair fall, and skin pigmentation in some cases.

To sum up, Stevens Johnson syndrome can be life threatening, if not diagnosed and treated in time. As mentioned earlier, the treatment provided to such patients is very similar to the treatment given to those with thermal burns. Treatment could include the use of supportive measures such as the application of topical pain antiseptics and anesthetics, intravenous analgesics, and ensuring that the patient is in a warm environment. It is important that you consult an ophthalmologist immediately as Stevens Johnson syndrome sometimes causes scar tissues to form inside the patient’s eyelids, and this could impair vision and a number of ocular problems.