Erythema Multiforme and Drug Reactions

  • Eric Dean Merrill
  • Carol W. Stanford


Erythema multiforme (EM) is an acute, immune-mediated mucocutaneous condition that characteristically presents with acrally distributed targetoid lesions. The disease is often self-limited, and treatment is frequently unnecessary. Although many factors have been associated with EM, the study of EM remains difficult due to various inconsistencies in terminology. Herpes simplex virus (HSV) causes the vast majority of EM cases, but drugs and Mycoplasma pneumoniae are also described in the literature. EM-like drug reactions are likely of different pathogenesis than herpes-associated EM. Drug reactions are frequently implicated in more serious disease, such as Stevens-Johnson syndrome, which can show papules and plaques that are targetoid lesions of EM. Thus, making the clinical distinction between EM and its more severe counterparts is crucial.


Erythema multiforme Target lesions Stevens-Johnson syndrome Herpes simplex virus Immune-mediated Drug exposure 

Suggested Reading

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Medical Student, School of MedicineUniversity of Missouri–Kansas CityKansas CityUSA
  2. 2.Internal MedicineUniversity of Missouri–Kansas CityKansas CityUSA

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