Toxic epidermal necrolysis is a life-threatening skin disorder. It causes skin tissue to die, resulting in skin blistering and peeling. It is most often caused by a medicine reaction. A milder form of the disorder is known as Stevens-Johnson syndrome.
The condition is most often triggered in the first eight weeks of using a new medicine. It may be caused by medicines for:
In rare cases, the condition may be caused by:
A child is at risk if they have:
Symptoms can be a bit different for each child. They can include:
The condition may spread to the eyes, mouth or throat and it may spread to the genitals, urethra or anus. The loss of skin allows fluids and salts to ooze from the raw, damaged areas. These areas can easily become infected.
Toxic epidermal necrolysis can be life-threatening. If your child has these symptoms, take them to the closest emergency room for assessment.
Your healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. They may also ask what medicines your child has had recently. They will give your child a physical exam. Your child may also have tests, such as:
Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is. If a medicine is causing the skin reaction, your child will stop taking it right away. The disease progresses fast, often within three days. Your child will need to be treated in the hospital. They may be in the burn unit of the hospital. This is because the treatment is a lot like treating a child with burns. Or your child may be treated in the intensive care unit (ICU). Treatment may include:
Complications can include:
There is no known way to prevent the condition. But a child who has had the disease must stay away from all possible triggers. A future episode of the condition may be fatal. Your child needs to stay away from not only the medicine that triggered the disease, but medicines in the same class. Talk with your child’s healthcare provider about which medicines your child needs to stay away from.
Get medical care right away if your child has any skin problems after taking a new medicine.
The pediatric specialists at Children's National Hospital have the expertise to diagnose, treat and manage conditions of the skin, nails and hair common in infant and younger patients. Discover more about the treatments we offer.
Invest in future cures for some of life's most devastating diseases. Give today to help more children grow up stronger.
The Division of Dermatology at Children's National Hospital continues to expand services as more families seek our expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the skin, hair and nails.