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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:
The following are the most common symptoms of erythema multiforme:
The symptoms of erythema multiforme may resemble other skin conditions. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
Specific treatment for erythema multiforme will be determined by your physician based on:
Erythema multiforme minor is not very serious and usually clears up on its own. However, if a person develops a more severe form of erythema multiforme (erythema multiforme major), the condition can become fatal. Erythema multiforme major is also known as Stevens-Johnson syndrome, and is usually caused by a medication reaction rather than an infection.
Treatment may include:
It is recommended that if you have symptoms of erythema multiforme, go to your emergency room or call 911. If a large area of skin is involved, it is an emergency situation.