Erythema multiforme is an allergic reaction with many different causes. It can affect people of all ages and is often more severe in children and young adults. The condition often starts as a red rash on the palms, soles, and back of the hands.

It can spread to the trunk, face, and mouth in severe cases. Some people only have erythema multiforme in the mouth. As the skin lesions age they often look like small targets with purple to dusky centers surrounded by red rings. The condition can be associated with fever, muscle aches, and not feeling well.

What are the causes of Erythema Multiforme?

There are many causes of erythema multiforme. These include allergic reactions to viral, bacterial, and fungal infections; sensitivity to food or drugs; immunizations; or sometimes it occurs in association with other disorders.

The most common causes of erythema multiforme are mycoplasma, pneumonia, cold sores, herpes of the genitals, and as a reaction to medication (sulfa drugs).

Erythema multiforme is not contagious and some people have recurrent episodes of the condition, usually due to cold sores or herpes infection.

What are the Erythema Multiforme treatment options?

A mild cortisone cream applied directly to the irritated skin areas, colloidal baths, and wet compresses may be helpful to facilitate the clearing of the lesions.

The most important treatment is to stop any medication that might be causing your rash. Only stop medicines you have been taking if your doctor tells you to.

The development and clearing of the skin lesions occur over approximately one week, but the rash may continue to appear in certain areas of the body, for as long as two or three weeks. Sometimes erythema multiforme makes people very sick and they have to be monitored in the hospital. If you develop mouth lesions call your doctor immediately.

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erythema multiforme on the hands