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(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 medications
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 lips, inside mouth, or 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 lips, inside mouth, or 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
American Family Physician http://www.aafp.org
Canadian Dermatology Association http://www.dermatology.ca
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/i
American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. Erythema multiforme. American Osteopathic College of Dermatology website. Available at: http://www.aocd.org/skin/dermatologic%5Fdiseases/erythema%5Fmultiform.html . Updated October 1, 2013.
British Association of Dermatologists. Erythema multiforme. British Association of Dermatologists website. Available at: http://www.bad.org.uk/site/816/default.aspx . Updated February 2010. Accessed October 1, 2013.
Erythema multiforme. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us . Updated June 24, 2011. Accessed October 1, 2013.
New Zealand Dermatological Society. Erythema multiforme. New Zealand Dermatological Society website. Available at: http://www.dermnetnz.org/reactions/erythema-multiforme.html . Updated February 6, 2013. Accessed October 1, 2013.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 09/2013
- Update Date: 09/30/2013