- Causes & Risk Factors
- Signs & Symptoms
What is bullous pemphigoid?
Bullous pemphigoid is an uncommon skin disease characterized by tense blisters on the surface of the skin. Occasionally, the inner lining tissue of the mouth, nasal passages, or conjunctivae of the eyes (mucous membrane tissue) can be involved.
- The condition is caused by antibodies and inflammation abnormally accumulating in a particular layer of the skin or mucous membranes. This layer of tissue is called the "basement membrane."
- These antibodies (immunoglobulins) bind to proteins in the basement membrane called hemidesmosomal BP antigens and this attracts cells of inflammation.
- The mucous membrane disease is also referred to separately as mucous membrane pemphigoid.
What are causes and risk factors of bullous pemphigoid?
A majority of those affected by bullous pemphigoid are 50 years of age or older. While the cause is unknown, it is felt by some that an aging immune system may become activated in certain individuals with a genetic predisposition to develop bullous pemphigoid.
What are signs and symptoms of bullous pemphigoid?
Symptoms of bullous pemphigoid include intense itching and a burning sensation in the skin.
When the mucous membranes of the mouth are affected, it can cause the following:
- Peeling away of affected inner lining tissues
- Sensitivity to acidic foods
Eating can be difficult, and involvement in the deeper areas of the throat can cause coughing. Involvement of the inner nose can cause nosebleeds.
The disease typically worsens and improves over time.
Is bullous pemphigoid contagious?
No. Bullous pemphigoid cannot be transmitted from one person to another.
What types of specialists treat bullous pemphigoid?
Bullous pemphigoid is diagnosed and treated by dermatologists.
How do health care professionals diagnose bullous pemphigoid?
Bullous pemphigoid is often diagnosed by clinical examination and is confirmed by the results of a biopsy of involved tissue. The biopsy with traditional pathology evaluation can demonstrate inflammation of the affected skin levels.
Additional testing of the biopsy specimen for antibody immune deposits can reveal the abnormal antibodies located in the basement membrane layer of skin or mucous membrane tissue. Blood testing for circulating basement membrane antibodies can also be helpful.
Bullous pemphigoid-like condition can sometimes be associated with other illnesses, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus) and cancer.
What is the best treatment for bullous pemphigoid?
Treatment of bullous pemphigoid is individualized and depends on the location and severity of the disease.
Bullous pemphigoid can be chronic and mild without substantially disturbing the general health of affected individuals. It can also significantly affect daily lives in its more severe forms.
- Mild bullous pemphigoid can resolve with topical prescription corticosteroid creams but sometimes requires high doses of steroids taken internally.
- Severe bullous pemphigoid can also require immune-suppression drugs such as azathioprine (Imuran), mycophenolate (Cellcept), and methotrexate (Rheumatrex). The tetracycline derivatives such as minocycline or doxycycline have also been used as an option to reduce inflammation. Other treatments that have been used for severe disease include intravenous immunoglobulin infusions, typically given monthly.
Research has indicated that large quantities of high-potency topical corticosteroids applied to the body surface are safer in controlling localized bullous pemphigoid than oral corticosteroids. It was felt by the researchers that topical corticosteroids should now be the treatment of choice for bullous pemphigoid, particularly when the disease is not extensive.
Are there home remedies for bullous pemphigoid?
No. There are no home remedies for bullous pemphigoid other than preventing skin irritation and infection from scratching.
What is the prognosis for bullous pemphigoid?
The outlook for bullous pemphigoid is variable. As described above, the symptoms tend to wax and wane. In its most severe form, it can be fatal without treatment, especially if involving the airways and pharynx.
Is it possible to prevent bullous pemphigoid?
No. There is no prevention for bullous pemphigoid.
- FDA Panel Backs RSV Vaccine for Infants, Some Toddlers
- Seniors: Stay Social, Active for 'Optimal Aging,' Study Shows
- Diabetes Med Metformin Might Help Prevent Long COVID
- Disability a Growing Concern for U.S. Cancer Survivors
- Smoke From Wildfires Is Especially Tough If You Have Asthma. Here’s How to Protect Yourself
- More Health News »
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top Bullous Pemphigoid Related Articles
CancerCancer is a disease caused by an abnormal growth of cells, also called malignancy. It is a group of 100 different diseases, and is not contagious. Cancer can be treated through chemotherapy, a treatment of drugs that destroy cancer cells.
Herpes Blister (Cold Sore) PictureCold sores (fever blisters) are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), passed on through contact with infected skin or body fluid. See a picture of Cold Sore and learn more about the health topic.
How Do I Treat a Blood Blister?Blood blisters are typically harmless and heal on their own over time. Learn different methods of treating a blood blister and how to prevent infection.
How Do You Heal a Blister on Your Foot Fast?Blisters are small fluid pockets of clear fluid that form in the superficial skin layers. Most blisters develop because of friction between your skin and a foreign body. Your new shoes or your marathon running practice may chaff your skin and cause you to blister. A blister may also form following a burn injury.
Itching (Pruritus)Itching can be a common problem. Itches can be localized or generalized. There are many causes of itching including infection (jock itch, vaginal itch), disease (hyperthyroidism, liver or kidney), reactions to drugs, and skin infestations (pubic or body lice). Treatment for itching varies depending on the cause of the itch.
Skin BiopsyDuring a skin biopsy, a piece of skin is removed under a local anesthesia and examined using a microscope. The different types of skin biopsy include shave biopsy, punch biopsy, and excisional biopsy. Skin biopsies are performed to diagnose skin growths, skin conditions, and skin cancers.
Skin Problems: Blisters Causes and TreatmentBlisters can result from an ill-fitting shoe, a bug bite, or a serious health problem like shingles. Find out more from WebMD about what causes them and how to treat them.
Skin Problems: Contagious Rashes, Bumps, and BlistersWhy do rashes, bumps, and blisters appear on your skin? There are several medical causes. Find out what causes bumps, rashes, and other skin conditions in adults and children. Whether on the arm, leg, trunk, or head, itchy or painful rashes and bumps can often be treated using home remedies or medicine.
Skin Problems: Rosacea, Acne, Shingles, Covid-19 RashesLearn to spot and treat skin conditions commonly found in adults such as acne, Covid-19 rashes, eczema, shingles, psoriasis, rosacea, hives, cold sores, razor bumps, athlete's foot, and more dermatology details.
Life-Threatening Skin RashesIt’s rare, but some skin rashes can be the sign of a dangerous condition that needs treatment right away. Get the facts.
Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or SLE)Systemic lupus erythematosus is a condition characterized by chronic inflammation of body tissues caused by autoimmune disease. Lupus can cause disease of the skin, heart, lungs, kidneys, joints, and nervous system. When only the skin is involved, the condition is called discoid lupus. When internal organs are involved, the condition is called systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
What Are Causes of Blisters in the Mouth?What causes blisters inside the mouth? Learn why they appear and what to do if you have mouth blisters.
What Are the Causes of Blisters on the Hands?Although blisters most commonly form on feet, they can occur anywhere on the body. Hand blisters and finger blisters are a common sight in everyday life. Learn what causes hand and finger blisters, when to see a doctor, and how to treat hand and finger blisters.
What Causes Blisters on Lips?What are blisters on lips and what causes blisters on lips? Learn about these mouth sores, what causes blisters on lips, and how to treat blisters on lips. What to know about getting rid of blisters on the tongue. Learn about the causes of blisters on the tongue and possible treatment methods.
What Causes Blisters on Your Feet?What are foot blisters and what causes them? Learn about the types of foot blisters, what causes them, and how to treat them.