Stevens Johnson Syndrome

Symptoms & Treatment for Stevens Johnson Syndrome


Stevens Johnson syndrome is the name given to a serious allergic reaction to any drug or medication, which includes a rash and lesions in the cutaneous and mucous membranes of the body. Sulfa drugs, penicillin, or anti-inflammatory drugs can cause Stevens Johnson syndrome symptoms such as a breakout of the rash, followed by blisters and peeling of skin in large areas of the body. Virus infections such as herpes, hepatitis, and HIV could also be causes of Stevens Johnson syndrome in some people.


Considered a severe form of erythema multiforme, Stevens Johnson syndrome can result in a painful death, if it is not treated early. Complications can be blindness, lung damage, loss of cutaneous membranes, scaring of internal mucous membranes, asthma, and the inability to sweat and maintain body temperature because of skin damage. Based on clinical findings, the disease may be classified as erythema multiforme major or minor. Toxic epidermal necrolysis syndrome is another form of Stevens Johnson syndrome.


Treatment for Stevens Johnson syndrome should start as soon as diagnosis is made based on clinical examination of the purplish red rash and distribution of the lesions in the mucous membrane of the mouth, nostrils, eyes, and the genital region. Persistent fever with symptoms similar to a flu, swelling of eyes, rash, and blisters on the skin and mucous membranes are common Stevens Johnson syndrome symptoms. Those who exhibit these symptoms may be hospitalized in the burns unit of a hospital, because the peeling skin poses a risk of secondary infections and sepsis.


Efforts should be made to identify the drug or the infection that may be the cause of Stevens Johnson syndrome symptoms, and the offending drug should be stopped immediately. Until the drug is identified, all non-essential medication should be avoided. Antibiotics are used to treat patients with bacterial infection or to prevent the spread of infection. Corticosteroids may be used to reduce skin inflammation and anti-histamines to tackle the itch in the skin. Pain medication is necessary to dull the discomfort from the lesions. An ophthalmologist is called in case the patient has lesions in the eye. Ulcers in the mouth may impact food and fluid intake, and intravenous fluid replacement and nutrients may be needed. Skin loss may result in dehydration and so fluid replacement becomes essential.


Stevens Johnson syndrome can occur in people of all ages and races, though it is seen more often in children. Hence, awareness of Stevens Johnson syndrome symptoms is crucial for parents to ensure that their child gets prompt medical attention and avoids serious long-term damage to the body. Parents should keep a record of the child’s recent medical history detailing prescription medication given so that medical professionals can identify and stop the drug that may have caused the syndrome.


Once the underlying cause of the Stevens Johnson syndrome symptoms is treated and the allergy causing drug discontinued or the infection treated, the skin grows back on its own with time. However, complications resulting from the syndrome include uneven skin and nail growth, hair fall, and skin pigmentation in some cases.


To sum up, Stevens Johnson syndrome can be life threatening, if not diagnosed and treated in time. As mentioned earlier, the treatment provided to such patients is very similar to the treatment given to those with thermal burns. Treatment could include the use of supportive measures such as the application of topical pain antiseptics and anesthetics, intravenous analgesics, and ensuring that the patient is in a warm environment. It is important that you consult an ophthalmologist immediately as Stevens Johnson syndrome sometimes causes scar tissues to form inside the patient’s eyelids, and this could impair vision and a number of ocular problems.


Stevens – Johnson syndrome is a rare but serious disorder of the skin and mucous membranes characterized by inflammation of the mucous membrane leading to the red or purplish rash. Stevens – Johnson syndrome is often an unwanted gift of the conventional drugs. One of the major groups of drugs is pain killer medicines which are often bought over the counter such as Paracetamol, NSAD, etc.

Causes of Stevens – Johnson syndrome

The exact cause is not fully understood. However it is considered that it is a specific type of allergic reaction to medications or infections. Medications:

  • Cox-2 inhibitors
  • Sulfonamides or penicillin for infections
  • Anticonvulsants


  • Herpes (simplex or zoster)
  • Influenza
  • HIV
  • Diphtheria
  • Typhoid
  • Hepatitis

Rare causes:

Physical stimulus given by UV rays or radiation therapy.


Existing medical conditions which lower the immunity of the body for e.g. HIV or SLE increase the risk for this syndrome.


Carrying a gene called HLAB12 may make you susceptible to SJS.

Symptoms of Stevens – Johnson syndrome


  • Facial swelling
  • Tongue swelling
  • Hives
  • Skin pain
  • A red or purple skin rash that spreads
  • Blisters on your skin and mucous membranes, especially in your mouth, nose and eyes
  • Shedding (sloughing) of your skin

If you have Stevens-Johnson syndrome, several days before the rash develops, you may experience: Fever, Sore throat, Cough, Burning eyes.


  • Clinical findings
  • Biopsy


  • Secondary skin infections for example meningitis.
  • Sepsis, when the bacteria travel through the blood stream throughout the body.
  • Eye problems: When the rash involves the eye. This may lead to blindness as well in certain cases.
  • Damage to internal organs: for e.g. the SJS can lead to severe inflammation of the kidneys (nephritis), lungs (pneumonitis) etc
  • Permanent skin damage.

Conventional Treatment

  • To discontinue the medications causing this.
  • Pain killers.
  • Antibiotics to control infection.
  • In severe cases immunoglobulin intravenous to halt the further process.
  • Fluid replacement: loss of skin may lead to loss of fluids from the body.
  • Skin grafting.

Natural Remedies

Treating such a progressive disorder requires targeted remedies that eliminate infection and manage symptoms. Antiviral treatments have proven to be the most effective and include such options as magnesium chloride, tea tree oil and colloidal silver. These treatments work in both directions healing from the inside and outside of the body.

Magnesium Chloride

Magnesium chloride is a potent remedy known for its ability to detox the cells and purify the tissue. Applied to the affected skin, magnesium chloride has a strong excretory effect that eliminates toxins and other infectious organisms in the skin. This compound also has a leukocytic effect that stimulates the production of infection-fighting white blood cells.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is an effective antiseptic and antifungal treatment. Applied to the skin, it draws out toxins and eliminates infection. The compound also moisturizes the skin, reducing redness and inflammation.

Colloidal Silver

Colloidal silver is best used as an internal remedy. Taken daily this substance works to naturally chelate toxins and other harmful substances in the body. Colloidal silver is a natural pathogenic cleanser that works from the inside out to remove infection-causing bodies.

Stevens-Johnson syndrome is a progressive condition that presents a medical emergency. Nonetheless, natural treatments have been identified that are effective for treating and reversing the condition. These treatments eliminate the toxic substances in the body and heal the skin naturally.