What is Stevens Johnson Syndrome?

Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) is a life-threatening condition affecting the skin, in which due to cell death the epidermis (outermost layer of the skin) separates from the dermis (skin beneath the epidermis that consists of connective tissue). The syndrome is thought to be a hypersensitivity complex affecting the skin and the mucous membranes.

Although Stevens Johnson Syndrome may be caused by viral infections or malignancies, severe allergic reaction to medication is the leading cause. It is a severe expression of a simple rash known as erythema multiforme. SJS is also known as erythema multiforme major.

About SJS

Stevens Johnson Syndrome patients suffer from inflammation of the skin and mucous membranes. Since mucous membranes are present in many organs throughout the body, such as the eyes, digestive system, lungs and respiratory system, many organs can become significantly affected during the disease process. SJS technically is an immune-complex-mediated hypersensitivity (allergic) condition.

SJS typically involves multiple areas of the body and extensive lesion formation. The lesions can extend to the mucous membranes, thus affecting the lungs, eyes, mouth, stomach, intestines and virtually every major organ.

SJS is a serious disorder with potential for severe morbidity and in some cases, it can be fatal. SJS proper (with less than 10 percent of body surface area involved) has the mortality rate of around 5 percent. Other outcomes include organ damage and blindness.


If you have Stevens-Johnson syndrome, several days before the rash develops, you may experience fever, sore throat, cough, and burning eyes. More serious symptoms will follow, including:

  • 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


Stevens-Johnson syndrome requires hospitalization. Treatment focuses on eliminating the underlying cause, if possible, controlling symptoms and minimizing complications. Recovery after Stevens-Johnson syndrome can take several weeks to several months, depending on the severity of your condition.

If your doctor determines that your case of Stevens-Johnson syndrome was caused by medication, be sure to avoid that medication and all others related to it that may cause a similar reaction, because recurrences of Stevens-Johnson syndrome can be fatal.

What can I do if I have been diagnosed with Stevens Johnson Syndrome?

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Stevens Johnson Syndrome or suffered a serious side effect associated with SJS, you may be entitled to compensation. For a free legal consultation, contact us today!

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