Erythema Multiforme

What is erythema multiforme?

Erythema multiforme is a condition that causes red spots on the skin. The spots often have a dark center surrounded by pale red rings, like a target or bull’s-eye. Sometimes, the spots have blisters.

The spots can appear in different places on the body, including the:

●Arms and legs

●Chest and back

●Face and neck

●Palms of the hands

●Soles of the feet

●Lips, tongue, and gums

●Genital area

Sometimes, erythema multiforme affects the eyes. When this happens, the whites of the eyes can look red.

The spots might itch or burn. Some people have a fever and feel tired and achy before the spots appear. The spots usually show up over 3 to 5 days. They disappear in about 2 weeks.

What causes erythema multiforme?

Most of the time, erythema multiforme is caused by an infection. But medicines can cause erythema multiforme, too.

Are there tests I should have?

Your nurse or doctor should be able to tell if you have erythema multiforme by looking at your skin and doing an exam. They might also take a small skin sample and a blood sample. These samples will help your doctor make sure your symptoms aren’t being caused by another medical condition.

Is there anything I can do on my own to feel better?

Yes. You can try putting a cool, damp cloth on the area with the spots. If you have a fever or feel achy, you can take over-the-counter medicines such as acetaminophen (sample brand name: Tylenol).

How is erythema multiforme treated?Treatments include medicines to ease itching and pain. Some medicines are creams that you rub on your skin. Others are pills.

If you have spots in your mouth, your doctor might give you a special mouthwash to help relieve the pain.

If your eyes are red or uncomfortable, you might need to see an eye doctor.

Can erythema multiforme be prevented?

If your condition was caused by a medicine, do not take that medicine again. Talk to your doctor or nurse about switching to a different medicine.

Some people who are infected with a certain virus keep getting erythema multiforme over and over again. If you get erythema multiforme more than several times a year, talk with your doctor or nurse. They might give you a medicine to take every day that will help keep you from getting it so often.