Erythema multiforme - Overview
Lyell's syndrome; Stevens-Johnson syndrome; Erythema multiforme minor; Erythema multiforme major
Definition of Erythema multiforme:
Erythema multiforme is a skin disorder due to an allergic reaction or infection.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors:
Erythema multiforme is a type of hypsersensitivity reaction that occurs in response to medications, infections, or illness. Medications include:
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. Most erythema multiforme is caused by herpes simplex or mycoplasma infections.
- Erythema multiforme major is more severe, and is known as Stevens-Johnson syndrome. The more severe form is usually caused by reactions to medications, rather than infections.
Erythema multiforme occurs primarily in children and young adults.
- Reviewed last on: 10/10/2010
- Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:pp 710-714.
Weber DJ, Cohen MS, Morrell DS, Rutala WA. The acutely ill patient with fever and rash. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Disease. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2009:chap 52.
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