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August 2006, Volume 36 Number 8 , p 26 - 26



PEMPHIGUS IS A GROUP of serious diseases of the skin characterized by the appearance of bullae (blisters) of various sizes on apparently normal skin and mucous membranes. In this acquired autoimmune disease involving immunoglobulin G, the pemphigus antibody is directed against a specific antigen in the surface of epidermal cells. A blister forms from the antigen-antibody reaction.

The level of serum antibody predicts disease severity. Genetic factors also may play a role in the development of pemphigus; the highest incidence of the disease is among patients of Jewish or Mediterranean descent. The disease usually occurs in men and women in middle and late adulthood, and may be associated with penicillins, captopril, and myasthenia gravis.

Signs and symptoms

Most patients have oral lesions appearing as irregularly shaped erosions that are painful, bleed easily, and heal slowly. The skin bullae enlarge, rupture, and leave large, painful eroded areas accompanied by crusting and oozing. A characteristic ...

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