Conditions & Treatments

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.

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 

 

Treatment Programs


Massachusetts General Hospital understands that a variety of factors influence patients' health care decisions. That's just one reason why we're dedicated to ensuring patients understand their diagnosis and treatment options. Because a single option might not serve all patients, we offer a wide range of coordinated treatments and related services across the hospital. Patients should consult with their primary care doctor or other qualified health care provider for medical advice and diagnosis information.

Select a treatment program for more information:



Department of Dermatology

  • The Medical Dermatology Program
    The Medical Dermatology program at Massachusetts General Hospital is a full-service dermatology practice that provides care for all skin, hair and nail conditions.

The following related clinical trials and research studies are currently seeking participants at Massachusetts General Hospital. Search for clinical trials and studies in another area of interest.

View all departments

Departments and Centers at Mass General have a reputation for excellence in patient care. View a list of all departments.