Stevens-Johnson Syndrome

What is Stevens-Johnson Syndrome?

Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, as well as Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis, are rare but severe skin conditions.  Because the symptoms start out mimicking those of a common cold or the flu, they are hard to detect in their early stages.  It has been discovered that taking the drug Onfi can lead to the onset of these diseases; especially in the early weeks of taking the drug.

SJS starts out with a fever, sore throat, and itchy eyes.  However, it quickly progresses to a severe red or purple rash that covers the body accompanied by facial swelling.  As the condition progresses the skin starts to blister and peel, and mucous membranes, such as those around the eyes, mouth, nose, and genitals, become inflamed.  If left untreated it can quickly develop into TEN.

TEN is a severe form of SJS.  This condition sees the skin literally die and separate from the sub layers.  It is extremely painful, requires hospitalization in a burn unit, and proves to be fatal in about 1/3 of those who suffer from it.  Even if recovery is made, the individual is left with scars and may never see again.

How Stevens-Johnson Syndrome Manifests Itself

If a patient is going to suffer from SJS after taking Onfi, he or she will likely know within the first 8 weeks of taking the drug.  The symptoms start out mimicking those of a cold or flu.  A fever with itchy eyes and sore throat, often accompanied by a cough seem to be a passing bug.  However, the symptoms don’t go away and the individual begins to suffer from painful skin, a worsening cough, and swollen mucous glands.  The eyes, nose, and mouth are especially affected.

As the condition progresses, the skin gets red or purple with a rash, and eventually blisters.  If left untreated Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis can set in causing the skin to slough off in sheets.  In some cases the body becomes infected and the individual can die from complications.  In nearly all cases, even after recovery, the patient is left with a heightened sensitivity to light.  One individual who took Onfi was left permanently blind after recovering from SJS.

Treatment Methods for SJS

Because the condition affects the skin so heavily, most of those suffering are treated in the burn wards of hospitals.  After a person has suffered from third degree burns, their skin is left flaky and eventually dies and falls off.  Those suffering from SJS will experience blistering of the skin that eventually falls off.  Unfortunately the skin disease is not limited to one area, it can even affect inside the mouth and around the eyes.

Without immediate treatment SJS will progress into TEN.  This condition is fatal in about 30% of those who suffer from it.  When a person suffers from TEN, the outer layers of the skin die and separate from the bottom layers (the epidermis detaches from the dermis).  Recovery is long and painful often requiring hospitalization for over a month.

The Progression of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome

Within the first 8 weeks of taking Onfi, some patients will notice the first signs of SJS.  Unfortunately at the beginning the signs mimic nothing more than a simple cold that progresses to flu-like symptoms.

The individual taking Onfi will feel the effects of a fever accompanied by a sore throat, burning eyes, and a mild cough.  These can easily be mistaken for just a bug that they will quickly get over.  However, these symptoms spread and don’t actually go away.

After a few days of cold and flu-like symptoms the condition spreads.  The individual will suffer from facial and tongue swelling and skin pain.  This pain progresses into a red or purple rash that spreads throughout the body within days.

The skin and mucous membranes begin to blister and peel.  Severe pain accompanies shedding of the skin where the outer layers literally separate from the sub-layers.  The mouth, eyes, nose and any other openings are especially susceptible.

If the cause of the condition is not stopped, SJS will progress to Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN).  This condition, a severe form of SJS, is equivalent to having third degree burns on the body.  The skin continues to fall off and the mucous membranes swell and blister.  Blindness can be a lasting effect.  About 1/3 of those who suffer from TEN die from complications.

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