Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis in Children

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. The loss of skin allows fluids and salts to ooze from the raw, damaged areas and can easily become infected. The following are the most common symptoms of toxic epidermal necrolysis. However, each child 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, and genitals

The symptoms of toxic epidermal necrolysis may resemble other skin conditions. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

Treatment for toxic epidermal necrolysis:

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. Specific treatment for toxic epidermal necrolysis will be determined by your child's physician based on:

  • your child's age, overall health, and medical history

  • extent of the disease

  • your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

  • expectations for the course of the disease

  • your opinion or preference

Treatment may include one, or several, of the following:

  • isolation to prevent infection

  • protective bandages

  • intravenous fluid and electrolytes

  • antibiotics

  • intravenous immunoglobulin G (IVIG)

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