Zithromax is a popular prescription medication preferred by doctors and many parents as a drug designed to attack infections quickly and conveniently, as it is taken relatively briefly compared to other antibiotics. However, it has come to light that Zithromax can cause serious skin side effects in children. These side effects may range from mild and temporary such as a rash and itching to serious and potentially fatal including a condition known as Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS) where skin cells die and the skin actually resembles that of a burn victim.
Zithromax is used to treat a variety of infections including sinus infections, skin infections, upper respiratory infections, throat infections, tonsillitis, urinary tract infections and many other common infections that appear in childhood.
Zithromax’s method is different from that of traditional antibiotics. Most antibiotics are developed to kill bacteria to reduce their number, while Zithromax works by preventing the bacteria’s reproduction. When the bacteria are no longer reproducing, their numbers begin to remain steady, allowing the body’s natural immune system to take over and finish eradicating the infection on its own.
Zithromax is no different from any other prescription or over-the-counter medication, in the sense that side effects do occur. Common Zithromax side effects are nausea, vomiting, dizziness, lightheadedness, insomnia, fatigue, headache, itchiness, and others. Normally, these side effects diminish as the body acclimates to the new medication and are short-lived.
The very severe side effect known as Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS) may occur in children in response to Zithromax use. SJS normally starts with symptoms resembling a cold or flu. These symptoms are often overlooked as they appear to be the same symptoms as the original infection, or are possibly mistaken for a common cold.
However, after the flu-like symptoms develop, shortly thereafter, the characteristic SJS rash appears as a red or purple rash full of blisters that can appear on the mucous membranes of the body as well as the skin. The rash may cover most of the child’s body.
In a related and more severe condition known as toxic necrolysis, or TEN, up to 90 percent or more of the body may be covered in this rash. The rash causes the skin cells to die, causing the skin to slough off in large sheets, exposing the lower layers of skin. SJS Zithromax skin side effects in children often appear to resemble a burn victim’s skin. SJS is not exclusive to children. In 2006 a case study published in the journal Acta Dermatovenerologica Croatica details the case of a 62-year-old woman who developed a Zithromax skin rash, then full blown SJS days after beginning a course of Zithromax.
There is no cure for SJS and the condition is a medical emergency. Measures to stabilize the patient include wound care, pain management, IV hydration, and nutrition. The SJS reaction may last from several days to several months. Some children may make a full recovery, while others may sustain permanent organ damage. In rare cases, children may suffer fatal outcomes related to an extreme reaction to Zithromax.