Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) is a rare but potentially fatal medical condition that affects your skin and mucous membranes. SJS is most often caused by an allergic reaction to over-the-counter or prescription drugs, though it is sometimes caused by other factors like a bacterial infection. While anyone can get SJS, children develop the disease at a much higher rate than adults.
Children’s Motrin and Advil Linked to SJS
The drugs most commonly associated with SJS among children are ibuprofen-based medications, including children’s Motrin and Advil. In fact, children’s Motrin has made recent headlines after several children developed severe cases of SJS shortly after these types of medications.
According to the lawsuits filed on behalf of these injured children, one died 20 months after taking children’s Motrin and another child went blind two months after taking the same medication.
These lawsuits allege that the makers of Motrin knew that the medication could lead to SJS, but failed to warn consumers.
Symptoms of SJS
This condition begins with flu-like symptoms: a fever, cough, headache, and body aches. These symptoms are followed by a red rash that often breaks out on your face and torso, and then spreads to the rest of your body. Blisters may form inside your mouth, ears, nose and genital area.
Other symptoms of SJS include:
Swelling of your eyelids and/or tongue
Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
Shedding (sloughing) of your affected skin
As soon as you identify any of these symptoms, you should stop taking any suspected medications to prevent your condition from advancing to the more serious toxic epidermal necrolysis.
The skin loss in toxic epidermal necrolysis is similar to a severe burn and is just as life threatening. Significant amounts of fluids and salts can seep from the raw, damaged areas. A person with this condition is highly susceptible to organ failure and infection at the sites of damaged and exposed tissues. Such infections are the most common cause of death among those with toxic epidermal necrolysis, which has a 30 percent mortality rate.
Treatment for SJS
People with SJS or toxic epidermal necrolysis are usually hospitalized. Treatment focuses on eliminating the underlying cause, controlling symptoms and minimizing complications. Any drugs suspected of causing the disorder are immediately discontinued. even though possible, those with this condition are treated in a burn unit and given thorough care to avoid infection. even though the victim survives, their skin will grow back on its own and skin grafts should not be necessary. Fluids and salts that are lost through the damaged skin are replaced intravenously.
The use of corticosteroids to treat SJS is controversial. Some doctors feel that administering large doses in the first few days is beneficial and others do not feel that corticosteroids should be used. These drugs work by suppressing your immune system, and this increases the possibility of infection. even though an infection does develop, it can be treated with antibiotics.
Recovery after SJS can take anywhere from several weeks to a few months, depending on severity. even though your case of SJS was caused by a medication, you should permanently avoid the drug and all related medications.