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Erythema Multiforme

Erythema Multofrme is an inflammatory or swollen, acute and self-limiting or contained skin eruption.

Erythema Multiforme

It is quite a common condition that this type of skin disorder is usually due to an infection, certain medications or an allergic reaction.

There are two types of Erythema Multiforme:

  • A mild, self limited rash. (Usually gets better in 2-6 weeks)
  • A severe life threatening form also known as erythema multiforme major and is responsible for high death rates.

Causes of Erythema Multiforme

There is no exact cause of this disorder, but rather speculations as to what may cause Erytema Multiforme to develop.

Some of the main causes of this condition are:

  • Bacterial Infections
  • Fungal Diseases
  • Herpes Simplex

Other causes include:

  • Drug reactions mostly to sulfa containing drugs
  • Penicillin
  • Allopurinol
  • Barbiturates
  • Phenytoin
  • Internal ailment

Erythema multoforme occurs as a result of an allergic reaction to medication, illness or infections and causes damage to the blood vessels found under the skin and also damage to the skin tissues.

Symptoms of Erythema Multiforme

Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Joint Aches
  • Dry Eyes
  • Blood shot eyes
  • Itching of the skin
  • Feeling ill
  • Eye pain
  • Mouth Sores
  • Vision abnormalities
  • Skin lesions
  • Lesions found on upper body, arms, palms, hands, feet or legs
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Malaise

Treatment for Erythema Multiforme

Treatment for Erythema Multiforme includes:

  • Discontinue use of any suspected medication.
  • The main goal with this condition is to prevent infection, treat the symptoms and control the illness that is causing the condition.

Medications used to treat Mild Symptoms

  • Acetaminophen to reduce fever
  • Tropical Anesthetics to ease discomfort
  • Antihistamines to control itching
  • Moist compresses applied to the skin

Medications used to treat Severe Symptoms

  • Corticosteroids to control the inflammation
  • Antibiotics to control the skin infections
  • Intravenous immunoglobulin to stop the disease process
  • Hospitalization and treatment in an intensive care or burn care unit

Other types of treatments

  • If large areas of the body are affected, skin grafting may be recommended.
  • It is always advisable that one stays away from people with this condition and practice good hygiene to prevent any secondary infections.
  • If this disorder is caused by the herpes virus, daily antiviral medications must be taken to prevent the disorder from returning.


Erythema Multiforme disorder has been given this name due to the “multiple forms” it appears in. It is a common problem facing dermatologists.

It often affects the eyes, mouth or any other moist surfaces and the rashes are made of spots that are red and slightly raised. On certain areas, a deep purple or look may form in the middle of these areas.

Males are affected more by this condition than females.
Medications are the main causes of Erythema Multiforme. How and why erythema multiforme develops is not completely understood.











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