Patient Information

Erythema Multiforme

What is erythema multiforme?

Erythema multiforme is a skin disorder characterized by symmetrical, red, raised skin areas all over the body. These patches often look like "targets" (dark circles with purple-grey centers). The skin condition may be chronic and usually lasts for two to four weeks each time.
Most often, this disorder is caused by the herpes simplex virus. Other causes may include the following:

An interaction with a certain medication

Other infectious diseases

Certain vaccines

What are the symptoms of erythema multiforme?

The following are the most common symptoms of erythema multiforme. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently symptoms may include:

Sudden, red patches and blisters, usually on the palms of hands, soles of feet, and face

Flat, round red "targets" (dark circles with purple-grey centers)


Cold sores


Joint pains


The symptoms of erythema multiforme may resemble other skin conditions. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.

Treatment for erythema multiforme:

Specific treatment for erythema multiforme will be determined by your physician based on:

your age, overall health, and medical history

severity of the condition

stage of the condition

your tolerance of specific medications, procedures, or therapies

expectations for the course of the condition

your opinion or preference

The condition usually clears up on its own. However, if a person develops a more severe form of erythema multiforme, the condition can become fatal.
Treatment may include:

    treating the infectious disease causing the disorder

    eliminating any medication causing the disorder

    cool compresses



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