Erythema multiforme

Recommend to others!

1. Overview

Erythema multiforme is a common skin lesions consisting in the appearance of circular lesions. These target-shaped lesions appear suddenly on lower and upper limbs, but also inside the mouth. Erythema multiforme minor is common and is not a serious condition.

Erythema multiforme major, although rare, may endanger a person’s life. This severe form, cause target-shaped lesions with painful blisters that tend to occur on the body, eyes, inside the mouth and the genitals.

The disease is also called Stevens-Johnson syndrome.


1. Overview
2. Causes
3. Symptoms
4. Diagnosis
5. Treatment
6. Prevention

2. Causes

Erythema multiforme is caused by a reaction to an infection or certain medications, but often the cause is unknown. Erythema multiforme minor is most commonly associated with herpes simplex virus.

Other triggers of erythema multiforme are:
- Mycoplasma infection
- Cocaine consumption
- History of radiotherapy

Administration of certain drugs such as sulfonamides, tetracyclines, amoxicillin, ampicillin, anti-inflammatory drugs and anticonvulsants, can cause erythema multiforme.

Exposure to any of the known causes of erythema multiforme increased risk of developing it.

3. Symptoms

Erythema multiforme symptoms can vary from mild to severe. The self-diagnosis is not recommended because many of the symptoms can be caused by other conditions. The main manifestations of erythema multiforme are:
- Lesions or spots on the skin
- Injuries that occur mostly in the legs
- Lesions as small targets with a red dot in the center
- Appearance of vesicles in the center of the lesion
- Rash appears equally on both sides of the body
- Eruptions disappear in 1-6 weeks.

Other symptoms include:
- Itch
- Fever
- Malaise
- Joint pain
- Blurred vision
- Eyes bloodshot or dry eyes
- Burning, pain or itching in the eyes
- Oral thrush.

4. Diagnosis

The doctor will want to know details about symptoms and medical history of the patient and send the patient to consult a dermatologist.

Most cases can be diagnosed based on medical history and skin examination. If target lesions are present, the diagnosis is easy to establish.

When skin lesions are not typical, it will do a biopsy and the harvested tissue will be examined under a microscope.

5. Treatment

In most cases, treatment is not necessary because the rash will disappear in a few weeks without any complications.

Treatment of underlying cause may involve administration of oral acyclovir for HSV treatment or antibiotics to treat mycoplasma pneumoniae.

The treatment may also be necessary for symptoms like these:
- Itching – are recommended oral antihistamines and / or topical corticosteroids
- Pain in the mouth – mouthwash or antiseptic containing local anesthetic will be used to reduce pain and secondary infections
- Eye disorders – refer to ophthalmologist

6. Prevention

If a person will develop erythema multiforme is important to discover which was the trigger of this condition and to avoid it if it is possible.



Speak Your Mind


Current day month ye@r *