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Erythema multiforme

  • Definition

    Erythema multiforme is a skin disorder due to an allergic reaction or infection.

    Alternative Names

    Lyell's syndrome; Stevens-Johnson syndrome; Erythema multiforme minor; Erythema multiforme major

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Erythema multiforme is a type of hypsersensitivity reaction that occurs in response to medications, infections, or illness. Medications include:

    • Barbiturates
    • Penicillins
    • Phenytoin
    • Sulfonamides

    Infections include:

    • Herpes simplex
    • Mycoplasma

    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.