Stevens-Johnson syndrome

Stevens-Johnson syndrome is a rare, serious disorder of your skin and mucous membranes. It's usually a reaction to a medication or an infection. Often, Stevens-Johnson syndrome begins with flu-like symptoms, followed by a painful red or purplish rash that spreads and blisters. Then the top layer of the affected skin dies and sheds.

Stevens-Johnson syndrome is a medical emergency that usually requires hospitalization. Treatment focuses on eliminating the underlying cause, controlling symptoms and minimizing complications.

Recovery after Stevens-Johnson syndrome can take weeks to months, depending on the severity of your condition. If it was caused by a medication, you'll need to permanently avoid that drug and others closely related to it.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

Stevens-Johnson syndrome symptoms include:

  • Facial swelling
  • Tongue swelling
  • Hives
  • Skin pain
  • A red or purple skin rash that spreads within hours to days
  • Blisters on your skin and the mucous membranes of your mouth, nose, eyes and genitals
  • Shedding of your skin

If you have Stevens-Johnson syndrome, several days before the rash develops you may experience:

  • Fever
  • Sore mouth and throat
  • Fatigue
  • Cough
  • Burning eyes

When to see a doctor

Stevens-Johnson syndrome requires immediate medical attention. Seek emergency medical care if you experience any of the following signs or symptoms:

  • Unexplained widespread skin pain
  • Facial swelling
  • Blisters on your skin and mucous membranes
  • Hives
  • Tongue swelling
  • A red or purplish skin rash that spreads
  • Shedding of your skin

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