Celecoxib-induced acute generalized exanthematous pustulosis

uncommon and under-recognized side effect





celecoxib, NSAIDs, dermatology, adverse drug reactions


Celecoxib, a selective COX-2 inhibitor, and non-selective anti-inflammatory drug, is commonly prescribed as the first-line analgesic for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and certain acute pain cases. It is mainly preferred for its lower risk of gastrointestinal adverse effects. However, it also carries risks, including renal and liver toxicity, anaphylaxis, and Stevens-Johnson syndrome. A rare but severe cutaneous adverse reaction associated with celecoxib is Acute Generalized Exanthematous Pustulosis (AGEP), characterized by extensive nonfollicular sterile pustules on an erythematous background, fever, and neutrophilic leukocytosis. AGEP is a rare condition with an incidence rate of 1-5 cases per million per year in the general population. It is primarily triggered by drugs, with antibiotics accounting for over 90 % of cases. Here, we present the case of a 44-year-old female who presented with a sudden, rapidly progressive, painful, pruritic rash all over her body with associated leukocytosis. A skin biopsy confirmed the presence of a pustular rash. The patient reported taking Celebrex (celecoxib) for worsening arthritis two weeks prior to symptom onset. The patient was diagnosed with Celecoxib-induced AGEP based on clinical and histopathological features. Treatment involved steroid therapy and discontinuation of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Encouragingly, the patient's rash improved within three days. Our case report aims to raise awareness of AGEP as a side effect of NSAIDs. Although AGEP is not typically serious, it can be fatal in elderly patients. Therefore, prompt identification and immediate cessation of the culprit drug is crucial.



How to Cite

Abdul Khader, A. H. S., & Singh, M. (2024). Celecoxib-induced acute generalized exanthematous pustulosis : uncommon and under-recognized side effect. EXCLI Journal, 23, 108–113. https://doi.org/10.17179/excli2023-6809



Case reports