Bullous pemphigoid is a skin disorder characterized by large blisters.
Bullous pemphigoid is an autoimmune disorder which occurs when the body's immune system attacks and destroys healthy body tissue by mistake.
This disorder usually occurs in older persons and is rare in young people. Symptoms come and go. In most patients, the condition goes away within 5 years.
Some people have no symptoms. Others may have mild redness, itching and irritation.
In many cases, they are many blisters, called bullae. Blisters are usually located on the arms, legs, or middle of the body. The blisters may break open and form ulcers or open sores. Some people also develop blisters in the mouth.
Other symptoms may include:
Exams and Tests
Tests that may be done to help diagnose this condition include:
- Blood tests
- Skin biopsy of the blister or the area next to it
Powerful anti-inflammatory medicines called corticosteroids may be prescribed. They may be taken by mouth or applied to the skin. Medicines to help suppress the immune system may be prescribed.
Antibiotics in the tetracycline family may be useful. Niacin (a B complex vitamin) is sometimes given along with tetracycline.
Bullous pemphigoid usually responds well to treatment. Most patients stop taking medicine after several years. The disease sometimes returns after treatment is stopped.
Skin infection is the most common complication.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your doctor for an appointment if you have:
- Unexplained blisters on your skin
- An itchy rash that continues despite home treatment
Bernard P, Borradori L. Pemphigoid group. In: Bolognia JL, Jorizzo JL, Schaffer JV, eds. Dermatology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 30.
Scott M, Werth VP. Bullous pemphigoid. In: Lebwohl MG, Heymann WR, Berth-Jones J, Coulson I, eds. Treatment of Skin Disease: Comprehensive Therapeutic Strategies. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 32.
Reviewed By:Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency
or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional
should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911
for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they
do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
The Agency for Health Care Administration (Agency) and this website do not claim the information on, or referred to by, this site is error free. This site may include links to websites of other government agencies or private groups. Our Agency and this website do not control such sites and are not responsible for their content. Reference to or links to any other group, product, service, or information does not mean our Agency or this website approves of that group, product, service, or information.
Additionally, while health information provided through this website may be a valuable resource for the public, it is not designed to offer medical advice. Talk with your doctor about medical care questions you may have.