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Pemphigus: Overview

What is pemphigus?

Pemphigus is a group of rare diseases that causes blisters. There are many different types of pemphigus, including:

  • Pemphigus vulgaris

  • Pemphigus foliaceus

  • Drug-induced pemphigus

  • Fogo selvagem

  • Paraneoplastic pemphigus

Regardless of type, the blisters are soft, limp, and break open easily.

Pemphigus vulgaris

Without treatment, the blisters and painful sores can become widespread, as shown here.

Pemphigus vulgaris blisters and sores

Most people get blisters on their skin. With some types of pemphigus, blisters form inside the mouth. A few types cause blisters on moist tissues like those that line the inside of the nose and eyes, throat, anus, or genitals.

Anywhere the blisters form, they tend to break open quickly, leaving painful sores. In the throat, the sores can cause hoarseness. Mouth sores can make eating, drinking, and talking difficult.

When sores develop, they tend to heal slowly. Some may never heal.

Important to remember

Pemphigus can develop in otherwise healthy people.

The important thing to remember is that today pemphigus in nearly always controllable. By keeping your dermatology appointments, you can partner with your dermatologist to make that a reality.

Image used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.

James WD, Berger TG, et al. “Chronic blistering dermatoses.” In: James WD, Berger TG, et al. Andrews’ Diseases of the Skin (10th edition). Saunders Elsevier, Philadelphia, 2006:459-66.

Stanley JR. “Pemphigus.” In: Wolff K, Goldsmith LA, et al. Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology in General Medicine (seventh edition). McGraw Hill Medical, New York, 2008: 459-74.

Zeina B. (DM Elston, editor). Pemphigus vulgaris. Medscape. Updated 8.12.2016. Last accessed 8.23.2016.