(Erythema Multiforme Minor; Erythema Multiforme Major)
- Erythema multiforme minor—most common, is generally mild and may go away on its own
- Erythema multiforme major—rare, usually more severe, less likely go away on its own, and can be life threatening
- History of erythema multiforme
Infection or history of infection caused by
- Virus (herpes infection is main cause in erythema multiforme minor)
Certain medications such as:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
Certain vaccinations including
- Diptheria and tetanus vaccine
- Hepatitis B vaccine
- Smallpox vaccine
|Red Blistered Skin|
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- Are itchy or burning
- Typically develop over 3-4 days, but at different times. Lesions will look different in various places of the body.
- Often start on hands and feet and spread to legs, arm, and face
- Start out as small, red areas, and grow to circular, raised areas. The middle is often a dark red which fades to a pale pink and is surrounded by a bright red edge. The different colors make the lesions look like mini targets.
- May have a blister or crust in the center
- Appears equally on both sides of the body
- May develop in one mucus membrane such as the lips, inside the mouth, or the eyes
- General ill feeling, fever, and achy joints before the rash appears
- More extensive rash
- Lesions that develop in 2 or more mucus membranes such as the lips, inside the mouth, or the eyes
- Treatment to prevent infections of the lesions
- Hospitalization for widespread, life-threatening lesions
Management of Symptoms
- Oral antihistamines to help control itching
- Topical steroid creams to help discomfort and itching
- Acetaminophen to reduce pain and fever
- Medicated mouthwash for lesions in the mouth
- Talk to your doctor about a daily prescription of an oral antiviral medication.
- Apply sunscreen and zinc sulfate solution to the site of the herpes simplex to help prevent relapse.
American Academy of Dermatology http://www.aad.org
Family Doctor—American Family Physician http://www.familydoctor.org
Canadian Dermatology Association http://www.dermatology.ca
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Erythema multiforme. American Osteopathic College of Dermatology website. Available at: http://www.aocd.org/skin/dermatologic%5Fdiseases/erythema%5Fmultiform.html. Accessed September 24, 2014.
Erythema multiforme. British Association of Dermatologists website. Available at: http://www.bad.org.uk/for-the-public/patient-information-leaflets/erythema-multiforme?q=Erythema multiforme. Updated April 2013. Accessed September 24, 2014.
Erythema multiforme. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 2, 2014. Accessed September 24, 2014.
Erythema multiforme. New Zealand Dermatological Society website. Available at: http://www.dermnetnz.org/reactions/erythema-multiforme.html. Accessed September 24, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 08/2014 -
- Update Date: 09/24/2014 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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