Extreme Acetaminophen Reaction: Woman Takes Pill, Loses Skin

"[Toxic epidermal necrolysis] usually heals itself without the use of skin-grafting," Sjoberg told ABC News. "it's not a surgical procedure. The skin heals by itself; in that sense this was rather an ordinary healing process. It was extraordinary that she was so young and that the problem she had with the skin was so extensive but apart from that, the healing process went normally."

Reaction is Very, Very Rare

The triggers for toxic epidermal necrolysis are still not fully understood but before you ditch acetaminophen in a panic, there are other drugs more likely to bring on the condition, such as anti-seizure medication, certain antibiotics, even other analgesics such as ibuprofen.

"Usually this does not come on the first time you take the drug as it's believed the immune system has to be sensitized before this kind of reaction", said Granstein. "Usually it comes on after you've been on the drug for a couple of weeks. It's assumed to be a hypersensitivity reaction involving the immune system but it's not clear-cut."

Losing Her Skin Because of a Common Pain Medication

The good news is that the mortality rate for the disease is very low -- out of the one in a million people who are stricken with toxic epidermal necrolysis, around 25 percent of those cases are serious. With modern medical care, even the most severely affected victims generally recover.

But Sjoberg remains adamant that if you do take medication, then make sure you really need it.

"You should have a clear-cut reason why you take a pill," he said. "It's always a balance between the good outcome and the risk that you undertake when you take medication. This very horrible disease underlines the risk you can come in to while taking a rather harmless drug like she did and the outcome that became so dramatic."

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