What is Pemphigus?

Pemphigus refers to a group of rare autoimmune skin disorders that cause sores and blisters on the mucous membranes or the skin. Areas that can be affected include the genitals, throat, nose, eyes, and mouth.

There are different types of pemphigus, but the two most common are pemphigus foliaceus and pemphigus vulgaris. While pemphigus foliaceus will affect your skin and typically be itchy rather than painful, pemphigus vulgaris will characteristically start in the mouth.

This disorder affects all ages, but it is most common amongst individuals who are middle aged and older. It is usually chronic, but it can be controlled with the help of an early diagnosis and the right treatment.

What are the Symptoms of Pemphigus?

The development of blisters on the mucous membranes and skin is the main sign of pemphigus. These blisters could rupture easily, and they could leave open sores behind. Those sores could then get infected and they might ooze.

In pemphigus vulgaris, you will notice blisters in the mouth and later on the skin or genitals. The blisters won’t itch, but they’ll be painful, and the ones that are in the throat or mouth could make it difficult to eat or swallow.

In pemphigus foliaceus, the blisters typically won’t be painful because they’ll be on the skin rather than on the mucous membranes. Most of the blisters will be on the shoulders, back, and chest. The skin could become itchy and crusty.

How is Pemphigus Treated?

Treatment for pemphigus might include therapies and medications that are similar to those that would be used to treat patients with severe burns.

Your doctor might prescribe anti-inflammatory medications, such as corticosteroids, at high doses in order to control your immune system. Corticosteroid cream might also be prescribed and applied to blisters. Antibiotics and immunosuppressants might also be used to treat pemphigus.

Severe cases might require a hospital stay.

Last Reviewed:
October 08, 2016
Last Updated:
August 24, 2017