Stevens Johnson’s Syndrome (SJS)
June 15, 2021 | Farah Jassawalla

Stevens Johnson’s Syndrome (SJS)

One of the rarest diseases that medical professionals encounter in their entire lives is a condition known as Stevens Johnson's Syndrome. Prevalent in countries all over the globe it is a serious disease that can be life-threatening. It is a disorder of the skin and mucous membranes, in which these two very important parts of our bodies start to form blisters and shed off. Most of us spend our whole lives without coming across this terrible disorder and we must hope that we are not amongst the ones who have to live through it.

Signs and Symptoms of SJS

These can be divided into two categories; early and late signs and symptoms; usually separated by three to five days from each other. The early symptoms of Stevens Johnson’s Syndrome, are as follows:




      Throat itchy, sore, or painful

      Sore mouth

      Difficulty eating and swallowing food

      Burning in eyes

The signs and symptoms that develop later, are:

      Unexplained pain over the skin surface

      A red or bluish-purple rash that spreads, usually initiated from the limbs

      Blisters on skin

      Blisters on mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, eyes, genitals

      Pus or blood secretion from these blisters

      Shedding of skin

      Complete inability to eat

Causes of SJS

The causative factors differ in children and adults. In children (up to 16 years of age), it is often triggered by viral infections. The common viruses in this category are:



      Herpes - Simplex Virus (that causes cold sores)

      Coxsackie Virus (that causes Bornholm Disease)

      Epstein Barr Virus (that causes Glandular fever)

Sometimes, although less commonly, bacterial infections may also trigger Stevens Johnson’s Syndrome.

In adults, however, SJS is usually a result of a rare adverse reaction to certain medications, many of which are in common use. These include:

      Allopurinol- A gout medication

      Carbamazepine- Anti-epilepsy and mood stabilizer

      Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen- Pain killers

      Ciprofloxacin- Antibiotic

      Penicillin- Antibiotic

      Lamotrigine- For seizures and BPD

      Nevirapine- For HIV/AIDS

      The –oxicam class of drugs- Anti-inflammatory

      Phenobarbital- Anticonvulsant

      Phenytoin- Anticonvulsant and seizure medication

      Sulfamethoxazole and other Sulfa drugs- Antibiotics

      Sertraline- Antidepressant

      Sulfasalazine- Antibiotic

Risk Factors for SJS

Some factors may make you more prone to developing SJS. They include:

      A weak immune system: If a person’s immune system is compromised, whether it is by disease or deficiency, they develop a higher risk for SJS.

      HIV/AIDS: This unfortunate disease creates problems in the whole body and increases the risk for SJS.

      Cancer: Cancer is another disease that affects the entire body and weakens it immensely. It also increases the risk for SJS.

      Hereditary predisposition: If a family member, among siblings, parents, and their siblings and parents, has had a history of SJS, a person can be said to be genetically more at risk for SJS.

      History of SJS: If someone has had the disorder happen to them once they have a higher risk for developing it a second time, in a more lethal form.

Is There Treatment Available For SJS?

A patient who shows symptoms of Stevens Johnson’s Syndrome will be admitted to the hospital immediately. The first thing doctors would do is establish an IV line to rehydrate and provide nutrients to the patient. Secondly, they will perform tests like chest X-rays, liver function tests, and renal function tests to make sure the deterioration has not spread to vital organs.

To get medical help regarding this disorder, you can contact Shifa4U. There is no definite cure for this disorder, so the symptoms are managed as they arise, and the patient is kept in strict observation to prevent the situation from getting worse.

Farah Jassawalla

Farah Jassawalla is a graduate of the Lahore School of Economics. She is also a writer, and healthcare enthusiast, having closely observed case studies while working with Lahore's thriving general physicians at their clinics.