Erythema multiforme is a skin disorder due to an allergic reaction or infection.
Erythema multiforme is a type of allergic reaction that occurs in response to medications, infections, or illness. Medications include:
Most erythema multiforme is associated with herpes simplex or mycoplasma infections.
The exact cause is unknown. The disorder is believed to involve damage to the blood vessels of the skin, followed by damage to skin tissues.
Some forms of this condition are more severe than others. Erythema multiforme minor is not very serious. Erythema multiforme major is more severe. The more severe form is usually caused by reactions to medications, rather than infections.
Erythema multiforme occurs primarily in children and young adults.
Other symptoms that may occur with this disease:
The diagnosis is based mainly on the appearance of the skin lesion, especially if there is a history of risk factors or related diseases.
Tests may include:
Treatment goals include:
Stop taking any suspected medications, with your doctor's approval.
Treatment of mild symptoms may include:
Treatment of severe symptoms may include:
Practicing good hygiene and staying away from other people may help prevent secondary infections.
Skin grafting may be helpful in cases in which large areas of the body are affected.
In cases that are caused by the herpes virus, daily antiviral medications may be prescribed to prevent erythema multiforme from returning.
Mild forms of erythema multiforme usually get better in 2 - 6 weeks, but they may return. More severe forms may be difficult to treat. Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis have high death rates.
Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if you have symptoms of erythema multiforme. If a large area of the body is involved, it is an emergency situation.