Bullous Pemphigoid

Bullous Pemphigoid

(Bull-us Pem-fee-goyd)

Definition

Bullous pemphigoid is a disease that causes blisters to form on the skin. It often lasts for up to 5 years. Treatment can help.

Skin Blisters

Nucleus factsheet image
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

Bullous pemphigoid is an autoimmune disease. This means the immune system attacks its own tissue by mistake. Normally, the immune system attacks foreign matter to prevent or stop infections. In this disease, it attacks tissue just below the top layer of skin.

The exact cause of the disease is not clear. It may be linked to other immune problems.

Risk Factors

Bullous pemphigoid is more common in older people.

Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • Neurological diseases, such as:
  • Burns or trauma
  • UV radiation exposure
  • Radiation therapy
  • Certain medicines, such as penicillin or diuretics

Symptoms

The first symptom is often severe itching of the skin. A rash and blisters develop later. Blisters are usually clear. They are often found on the arms, legs, belly, and mouth, along skin folds. The blisters can break and form ulcers.

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. You may be referred to a skin specialist.

Tests may be done to rule out conditions with similar symptoms. Tests may include:

  • Blood tests
  • Skin biopsy —a sample of the affected tissue will be taken and tested

Treatment

Treatment depends on how severe the disease is. If medicines have played a role in the disease, they may be changed or stopped. Bullous pemphigoid responds well to treatment. It often disappears completely within 5 years.

Treatment options are:

  • Medicines to lower the immune system, such as:
    • Steroids (by mouth, injection, or applied to the skin)
    • Immunosuppressants (by mouth or injection)—for those who do not respond well to steroids
  • Antibiotics applied to the skin—prevent or to treat infections
  • Skin care, such as:
    • Leaving blisters alone, if possible—to prevent infection
    • Draining blisters that interfere with daily tasks
    • Bandaging and protecting raw areas

Prevention

There are no guidelines to prevent bullous pemphigoid.

RESOURCES:

American Academy of Dermatology
https://www.aad.org
American Osteopathic College of Dermatology
http://www.aocd.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Dermatology Association
http://www.dermatology.ca

References:

Bullous pemphigoid. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15855-bullous-pemphigoid. . Accessed July 29, 2021.
Bullous pemphigoid. DermNet NZ website. Available at:https://www.dermnetnz.org/topics/bullous-pemphigoid/ . Accessed July 29, 2021.
Bullous pemphigoid. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/bullous-pemphigoid. Accessed July 29, 2021.
Bullous pemphigoid. NHS Choices website. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/bullous-pemphigoid/. Accessed July 29, 2021.
Bullous pemphigoid. Primary Care Dermatology Society website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed July 29, 2021.
Sadik CD, Schmidt E. Resolution in bullous pemphigoid. Semin Immunopathol. 2019;41(6):645-654.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Dan Ostrovsky, MD
Last Last Updated: 7/29/2021

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at healthlibrarysupport@ebsco.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.

Home |Terms and Conditions |Concerned About Privacy? |Accessibility |Careers |For Employers and Medical Plan Providers

You may also be looking for: CVS/pharmacy | MinuteClinic | Specialty Pharmacy | SilverScript | Accordant