Severe Reaction to Antibiotic Causes Burns

When 19-year-old Yaasmeen took a friend’s antibiotic, she hoped it would offer relief from her flu-like symptoms. Instead, Yaasmeen developed a life-threatening allergic reaction to the medication, which resulted in burns to 60 percent of her body.

Stevens-Johnson syndrome is a rare disorder in which the skin and mucous membranes have a severe reaction to a medication. The condition usually begins as a red and purple rash on the chest and back that spreads to the arms and legs. The rashes turn into blisters, which cause the top layer of skin to die and fall off. Patients often are treated in burn centers. They are at increased risk of infections because of the open wounds and a weak immune system.

Critical care surgeon Dr. Nicole Bernal of the University of California Irvine Burn Center is treating Yaasmeen. She explains that Yaasmeen has been fighting an infection, but her burns are 20 percent healed, and she is expected to continue to improve.

The Doctors warn against taking someone else’s prescription medication, and family physician Dr. Rachael Ross cautions that any medication could trigger Stevens-Johnson syndrome.

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