Stevens-Johnson syndrome requires hospitalization, often in an intensive care unit or burn unit.
Stopping nonessential medications
The first and most important step in treating Stevens-Johnson syndrome is to discontinue any medications that may be causing it. Because it's difficult to determine exactly which drug may be causing the problem, your doctor may recommend that you stop taking all nonessential medications.
Supportive care you're likely to receive while hospitalized includes:
- Fluid replacement and nutrition. Because skin loss can result in significant loss of fluid from your body, replacing fluids is an important part of treatment. You may receive fluids and nutrients through a tube placed through your nose and advanced into your stomach (nasogastric tube).
- Wound care. Cool, wet compresses will help soothe blisters while they heal. Your health care team may gently remove any dead skin and place a medicated dressing over the affected areas.
- Eye care. You may also see an eye specialist (ophthalmologist).
Medications commonly used in the treatment of Stevens-Johnson syndrome include:
- Pain medication to reduce discomfort
- Medication to relieve itching (antihistamines)
- Antibiotics to control infection, when needed
- Medication to reduce skin inflammation (topical steroids)
If the underlying cause of Stevens-Johnson syndrome can be eliminated and the skin reaction stopped, new skin may begin to grow over the affected area within several days. In severe cases, full recovery may take several months.
Apr. 09, 2011
- Nirken MH, et al. Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis: Clinical manifestations; pathogenesis; and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Dec. 13, 2010.
- High WA, et al. Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis: Management, prognosis, and long-term sequelae. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Dec. 13, 2010.
- Evans J. Topical treatment protocol for Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis. Journal of Wound Ostomy & Continence Nursing. 2009;36:509.
- Hazin R, et al. Derm diagnoses you can't afford to miss. The Journal of Family Practice. 2009;58:298.
- Knowles S, et al. Clinical risk management of Stevens-Johnson syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis spectrum. Dermatologic Therapy. 2009;22:441.
- Ward KE, et al. Severe adverse skin reactions to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: A review of the literature. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy. 2010;67:206.
- Usatine RP, et al. Dermatologic emergencies. American Family Physician. 2010;82:773.