Immediate medical attention is key to Stevens-Johnson Syndrome treatment. The illness is most often caused by an allergic reaction to a medication and can be deadly at worst, excruciatingly painful at best.
The illness has been linked to various over-the-counter and prescription drugs such as anti-gout medications, penicillin, anticonvulsants and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. While medical personnel are unable to determine the root cause of the condition in up to 50 percent of cases, and certain viral infections have also been associated with the illness, medications are by far the most common known trigger.
At the onset of the illness, which can occur as much as two weeks after the patient ingested the offending drugs, the sufferer may experience flu-like symptoms like headaches, a cough, body aches and fever. In many cases, a dark red, painful rash develops and spreads within hours. Blisters on the mucous membranes and severe swelling of the eyelids are also distinct symptoms. If left untreated, large pieces of skin may ultimately separate from the body, giving the patient an appearance similar to that of a burn victim.
SJS treatment usually requires hospitalization and incorporates the administration of topical steroids or intravenous corticosteroids to stem inflammation of the skin, antihistamines and antibiotics as needed to control or prevent infection of wounds. If a large area of the body is affected, admission to a burn center may become necessary and skin grafts may be needed. A variety of specialists may be consulted during Stevens-Johnson Syndrome treatment according to organ or respiratory systems affected by the illness, including an ophthalmologist to assess or prevent permanent vision loss.
Recovery from the illness may take weeks and up to several months as the patient’s skin heals. Anyone undergoing Stevens-Johnson Syndrome treatment may want to speak to a drug injury lawyer about possible restitution for SJS.