A range of epilepsy drugs can cause serious skin disorders, such as Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis.
Researchers examined 352 sufferers of either of the two skin problems and found that 73, or 21 per cent, were taking an antiepileptic drug. Of these, 36 were prescribed phenobarbital, 14 were taking phenytoin, 21 were on carbamazepine, 13 on valproic acid and three on lamotrigine. Those who reacted to valproic acid tended to be taking other drugs as well.
The research team, from Mannheim University in Germany, said the risk usually fell within the first eight weeks of drug therapy (Lancet, 1999; 353: 2190-4).