Potentially Serious Reactions to Lamictal

Rare But Dangerous

Unusual bruising may indicate a serious reaction to Lamictal
Unusual bruising may indicate a serious reaction to Lamictal. Libor TomA!A!tA-k/E+/Getty Images

Lamictal (lamotrigine) is an anticonvulsant drug often used as a mood stabilizer for bipolar disorder. The best-known serious reaction to Lamictal is developing a rash that might be permanently disfiguring or life-threatening. However, there are other potential reactions to Lamictal that are rarer than rashes but can be quite serious if they do occur.

Hypersensivity Reactions to Lamictal

Lamictal can also cause other types of allergic reactions or serious problems that may affect organs and other parts of your body, like the liver or blood cells.

You may or may not have a rash with these types of reactions.

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • skin rash
  • hives
  • fever
  • swollen lymph glands
  • painful sores in the mouth or around your eyes
  • swelling of your lips or tongue
  • yellowing of your skin or eyes
  • unusual bruising or bleeding
  • severe fatigue or weakness
  • severe muscle pain
  • frequent infections

These symptoms may be the first signs of a serious reaction. A healthcare provider should examine you to decide if you should continue taking Lamictal.

As you can see, there are many symptoms besides a rash that could indicate a hypersensitivity reaction. You don't have to have more than one of the symptoms listed above before you check with your doctor as soon as possible.

Acute Multiorgan Failure

The frequency of this reaction to Lamictal is not given in the prescribing information. There were deaths from the failure of multiple organs such as the liver in clinical trials of epilepsy patients (about 9.6 in 10,000 for both children and adults), but none in clinical trials for bipolar disorder.

Blood Dyscrasias

This term refers broadly to blood diseases. Again, the frequency of this reaction to Lamictal is not given in the prescribing information. It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss the specific blood diseases mentioned in that information, but you may get more information from other Verywell.com guides at the links below:

Bipolar Disorder Patients - Clinical Worsening and Suicide Risk

Patients who are taking Lamictal for bipolar disorder, as well as their caregivers and families, should be alert for symptoms that depression is getting worse and/or suicidality. Patients with a history of suicidal behaviors or thoughts, patients who have a high degree of suicidal ideation before starting treatment, and young adults have an increased risk of suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts, so careful monitoring is needed during treatment. Doctors should consider changing treatment, including possibly discontinuing Lamictal, if depressive symptoms get worse, new symptoms occur, or suicidal thoughts or behaviors appear.

Aseptic Meningitis

Lamictal increases the risk of developing aseptic meningitis. Symptoms may include abdominal pain, abnormal sensitivity to light (photophobia), chills, confusion, drowsiness, fever, general discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling (malaise), headache, muscle pain, nausea and vomiting, rash, sore throat, and stiff neck.

Symptoms have been reported to show up anywhere from one day to 6-7 weeks of starting treatment with Lamictal. In most cases, discontinuing Lamictal took care of the symptoms, but patients who have had aseptic meningitis should not take Lamictal again.

About Lamictal and Serious Reactions

Many people take Lamictal or the generic lamotrigine without experiencing any dangerous side effects. The intent of this article is not to discourage anyone from taking Lamictal. Rather, it is to inform patients and their families and caregivers of symptoms and dangers of potential problem reactions to this drug.

Every prescription medication has its side effects. The important thing is to know what they are so that you can recognize them as soon as possible when they occur.


FDA Approved Label for Lamictal.

Lamictal Patient Information Guide.

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