Erythema multiforme is a common skin disorder. It consists of target-like circular lesions. They have a red center, pale ring, and dark red outer ring. These lesions appear suddenly on the legs, arms, palms, hands, feet, and inside the mouth.
Erythema multiforme minor is the most frequent form. It is generally mild.
Erythema multiforme major, while rare, can be life-threatening. This severe form of the disorder usually causes target lesions with painful blisters at their center. They tend to appear on the trunk, eyes, inside the mouth, and genitals. It is also called Stevens-Johnson syndrome.
In some cases this condition can be caused by a reaction to an infection or certain medications. Often the cause is unknown.
Erythema multiforme minor is most commonly associated with:
Herpes simplex virus—the same virus that causes cold sores
Other triggers connected with erythema multiforme major include:
Symptoms can vary from mild to severe. If you have any of these do not assume it is due to erythema multiforme. These symptoms may be caused by other health conditions. If you experience any one of them, see your doctor.
Skin lesions or spots
Typically appear over 3-4 days
Start on hands and feet and spread to legs, arm, and face
Spots start out as small, red areas, and progress to look like mini targets
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and medical history. You may be referred to a doctor who specializes in skin problems.
Most cases can be diagnosed based on your medical history and skin exam. If target lesions are present, then diagnosis is clear. The skin lesions may not be typical. In this case, a biopsy of the skin may be done. The skin sample is examined under a microscope.
Treatment for this condition involves:
Eliminating the trigger or cause (if known)
Relieving the symptoms
Preventing infection of the lesions (in erythema multiforme major)
Treatment options include the following:
Management of Symptoms
Oral antihistamines to help control itching
Topical steroid creams to help discomfort and itching
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a