What You Need to Know About Stevens-Johnson Syndrome

What You Need to Know About Stevens-Johnson Syndrome

doctors in the hospital hallway

Stevens-Johnson Syndrome is a severe skin reaction most often triggered by certain over the counter and prescription medications. It is rare, affecting 1 to 2 million people each year. It often begins with a fever and flu-like symptoms. Then the skin begins to blister and peel within a few days, leaving painful raw areas called erosions. The erosions typically start on the face and chest before spreading to other areas of the body.

In most individuals, the condition will also damage mucous membranes which include the lungs, airways, mouth, and eyes. This can cause difficulty in swallowing, breathing, and visual impairment. Stevens-Johnson Syndrome is a serious and sometimes life-threatening condition and medical treatment should be sought immediately. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, about 10% of people with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome die.

The medications most commonly associated with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome are:

  • • Pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin IB), and naproxen sodium (Aleve)
  • • Medications to fight infections such as penicillin
  • • Some types of seizure medications including carbamazepine, lamotrigine, and phenytoin
  • • Allopurinol which is used to treat kidney stones and gout
  • • Medications that treat mental illness such as antipsychotics
  • • Antibiotics called sulfonamides
  • • Nevirapine which is used to treat HIV
  • • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) called oxicams.

Some of the long-term effects associated with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome include:

  • • Permanent skin damage including scars, abnormal bumps, skin discoloration, and dryness
  • • Permanent lung damage including acute respiratory failure
  • • Eye problems including chronic dryness, inflammation of the eyes, tissue damage, scarring, and visual impairment
  • • Hair loss
  • • Abnormal growth or loss of finger/toenails

According to the Mayo Clinic, risk factors that may increase your chances of contracting Steven Johnsons Syndrome include:

  • • An HIV infection
  • A weakened immune system
  • • A history of Stevens-Johnson syndrome
  • • A family history of Stevens-Johnson syndrome
  • • The HLA-B*1502 gene

It was once thought that a similar serious health condition called Toxic Epidural Necrosis (TEN) were two separate conditions. It is now considered to be part of a continuum with TEN representing the more severe end of the spectrum. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, about 50% of people with TEN dies. Other names for this condition include:

  • • Drug-induced Stevens-Johnson syndrome
  • • Lyell’s syndrome
  • • Mycoplasma-induced Stevens-Johnson syndrome
  • • Toxic epidermal necrolysis spectrum

The failure of drug manufacturers to disclose Stevens-Johnson Syndrome as a possible side effect on certain over the counter and prescription medications contributes to countless cases of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome each year. Medication users who experience this syndrome and were not informed of the risk the drug presented should contact VanDerGinst Law to understand their legal rights.

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with Steven Johnsons Syndrome, VanDerGinst Law would be honored to help. The consultation is free and there is never a fee unless we win. Contact VanDerGinst Law today. We have knowledgeable and experienced attorneys who can help guide you through the complexities of your case and help you obtain the financial compensation you deserve. Call VanDerGinst Law at 800-797-5391. The law is tough, being injured is tougher. We’ll make it easier for you.


The information contained on this website is presented by VanDerGinst Law P.C. It is not intended nor should it be construed as professional legal advice. The information is general in nature about the Firm, the scope of services we offer, and our community outreach, it is not legal advice. Please contact us by phone, email, mail, or via this website for inquiries. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a personal injury attorney for a consultation regarding your situation. This website is not intended to solicit clients outside the State of Iowa and/or the State of Illinois.