Clinical Update: Cutaneous Drug Eruptions

Cutaneous drug eruptions are the most common adverse reactions to medications. When cutaneous drug eruptions occur, they most commonly appear as a maculopapular rash. More serious adverse reactions include Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis. Stevens-Johnson syndrome usually begins with flu-like symptoms and then progresses to skin pain, facial and tongue swelling, and blistering and sloughing of the skin, including the eyes, lips, mouth and genital region. In toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), the top layer of the skin detaches. Both Steven-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis require immediate medical attention.

Some cutaneous adverse reactions occur within days while others may present after long-term use of the offending drug. Drugs commonly associated with cutaneous drug eruptions include:
  • penicillins
  • cephalosporins
  • sulfonamides
  • carbamazepine
  • hydantoins
  • allopurinol
  • gold.

This Just In

From Our Journals

*Access to CE articles is through Lippincott's To return to the Skincare Network from NursingCenter, click the Skincare Network link under the Specialty Sites navigation button.

 Management of Treatment-Induced Dermatologic Toxicities in Palliative Care
Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing
January/February 2012

The Case of the Cutaneous Quandary
Advanced Emergency Nursing Journal
December 2011

Journal of the Dermatology Nurses' Association
November/December 2009

 CHALLENGES IN PRACTICE: Topical Treatment Protocol for Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis
Journal of Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing
May/June 2009


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