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What is Pemphigus

Pemphigus is a group of chronic autoimmune skin diseases characterized by blister formations in the outer layer of the skin and the mucous membranes. Pemphigus vulgaris begins with blister formations (bullae) in the mouth or on the scalp. The blisters are soft and easily broken. The blistering can also affect the esophagus, rectum, nose or the lining of the eyelids. These bullae heal without scarring. Pemphigus vulgaris most often occurs in middle-aged patients of Jewish or Mediterranean descent. It has been associated with other autoimmune diseases such as myasthenia gravis and lupus. Diagnosis of an autoimmune bullous disease should be suspect when:

  • there is no clear history of exposure to a drug or a contact allergen
  • when other studies for infectious origins, such as herpes or impetigo, are negative

To differentiate these diseases, a careful history and physical examination are important. A skin biopsy is often helpful.

Patient Support and Disease Information

International Pemphigus Pemphigoid Foundation (IPPF)

Additional Information

Questions and Answers about Pemphigus (NIAMS)

Pemphigus Vulgaris (Johns Hopkins)


Related Autoimmune Patient Groups

International Pemphigus & Pemphigoid Foundation

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Many of our partner organizations specialize in support for specific autoimmune diseases and have additional resources, research and care-management information available.