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Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis

What is toxic epidermal necrolysis?

Toxic epidermal necrolysis is a life-threatening skin disorder characterized by a blistering and peeling of the skin. This disorder can be caused by a drug reaction--frequently antibiotics or anticonvulsives.

What are the symptoms of toxic epidermal necrolysis?

Toxic epidermal necrolysis causes the skin to peel in sheets, leaving large, raw areas exposed. The loss of skin allows fluids and salts to ooze from the raw, damaged areas, and these areas can easily become infected. The following are the other most common symptoms of toxic epidermal necrolysis. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • A painful, red area that spreads quickly

  • The skin may peel without blistering

  • Raw areas of skin

  • Discomfort

  • Fever

  • Condition spread to eyes, mouth/throat, and genitals/urethra/anus 

The symptoms of toxic epidermal necrolysis may resemble other skin conditions. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

Treatment for toxic epidermal necrolysis

Specific treatment for toxic epidermal necrolysis will be determined by your doctor based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history

  • Extent of the condition

  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

  • Expectations for the course of the condition

  • Your opinion or preference

The disease progresses fast, usually within three days. Treatment usually includes hospitalization, often in the burn unit. If a medication is causing the skin reaction, it is discontinued. Treatment may include:

  • Hospitalization

  • Isolation to prevent infection

  • Protective bandages

  • Intravenous (IV) fluid and electrolytes

  • Antibiotics

  • Intravenous immunoglobulin G, which is used to prevent further immune system damage 

 

Online Medical Reviewer: Marcellin, Lindsey, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ziegler, Olivia Walton, MS, PA-C
Date Last Reviewed: 2/6/2013
© 2000-2014 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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