Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) are serious skin conditions that cause skin to develop rashes, blisters, and then peel. Mucus membranes, including the eyes, vagina, and mouth, are also affected. People who get this condition are usually admitted to burn units in hospitals.
Some people consider SJS and TEN to be different diseases, while others consider them to be the same disease but in varying degrees. SJS is less intense than TEN. (For instance, skin peeling might affect less than 10% of the entire body in SJS, while skin peeling affects more than 30% of the body in TEN.) However, both conditions can be fatal.
Yes. It is also known as Lyell’s syndrome, Stevens-Johnson syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis, and Stevens-Johnson syndrome toxic epidermal necrolysis spectrum. Depending on the cause, it might be called drug-induced Stevens-Johnson syndrome or mycoplasma-induced Stevens-Johnson syndrome.
Many cases of SJS happen in children and adults younger than 30 years old, but also occur in others, especially the elderly. More cases of SJS have been reported in females than males. Infections like pneumonia are the most likely cause of SJS in children. People with the following conditions are at greater risk:
There is most likely a combination of factors involved with developing these disorders, including a genetic predisposition. Environmental factors might cause the gene to be triggered. One of these genetic factors include specific human leukocyte antigens (HLAs) that may increase one’s risk of developing SJS or TEN.
Many cases of SJS are caused by an allergic reaction to a medication (while almost all cases of toxic epidermal necrolysis or TEN involve medications.) However, infections (like mycoplasma pneumonia) can also cause SJS, as can vaccinations, and graft-versus-host disease. In some situations, the syndrome is said to be idiopathic (because no cause is known).
If the skin condition is caused by a drug, symptoms tend to start about one to three weeks after the person has begun taking a medication. The flu-like illness (fever, cough, and headache) is followed first by a rash and then peeling. In the case of TEN, some people even lose hair and nails.
Doctors diagnose SJS and TEN (toxic epidermal necrolysis):
The most severe complication of SJS and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) is death. Death happens in about 10% of cases of SJS, and about 50% of TEN. Other complications could include:
If someone survives having SJS, future problems could include:
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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 10/03/2017