Erythema Multiforme

  • David BurbulysEmail author
  • Kelly D. Young


Erythema multiforme is an uncommon, acute or recurrent, widespread, immune-mediated, mucocutaneous hypersensitivity syndrome of varying severity. It is most commonly triggered by herpes simplex virus infection but may also be precipitated by a host of other conditions or exposures. The rash is characterized by polymorphous, acrally distributed lesions with a characteristic targetoid appearance. Erythema multiforme major is the rarer form and defined by oral, genital, or ocular mucosal erosions or bullae in addition to the classic lesions. This is likely a distinct entity from the clinically similar Stevens-Johnson syndrome. Erythema multiforme is generally self-limited and resolves in 3–6 weeks, and symptomatic therapy is all that is often required.


Erythema multiforme (major, minor, recurrent, persistent) Immune-mediated hypersensitivity reaction Mucocutaneous syndrome Herpes simplex virus Mycoplasma pneumoniae Stevens-Johnson syndrome Toxic epidermal necrolysis Acral distribution Polymorphous rash Mucosal involvement Target lesion Targetoid lesion Iris-like lesion Mucosal erosion Bullous lesion Negative Nikolsky’s sign 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Health Sciences Clinical Professor of Emergency MedicineDavid Geffen School of Medicine at UCLALos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Department of Emergency MedicineTorranceUSA

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