What is pemphigus?

Pemphigus is a rare disease that causes blistering on many parts of the body, including  the skin and the inside of the mouth, nose, throat, eyes, and genitals.

In pemphigus, the immune system mistakenly attacks cells in the top layer of the skin.

Who gets pemphigus?

You are more likely to get pemphigus if you have certain risk factors. These include:

  • Ethnic background. Some populations, are at greater risk for certain types of the disease.
  • Geographic location. Certain types of pemphigus is more common in some places.
  • Sex and age. Depending on the type of pemphigus, sex and age can be a risk factor for the disease.
  • Genes. Doctors believe that genes may explain why certain places have more people with the disease.  
  • Medications. In rare cases, pemphigus has resulted from taking certain medicines.
  • Cancer. Rarely, a tumor can trigger the disease.

What are the types of pemphigus?

There are many forms of pemphigus. The two main forms are:

  • Pemphigus vulgaris is the most common type in the United States. Blisters form in the mouth and inside of the mouth, nose, throat, eyes, and genitals, as well as on the skin. They are often painful.
  • Pemphigus foliaceus is less common and only affects the skin. The blisters may be itchy or painful.

What are the symptoms of pemphigus?

The main symptom of pemphigus is blistering of the skin. In some cases, other areas of the body may get blisters, including:

  • The inside of the mouth or nose.
  • Throat.
  • Eyes.
  • Genitals.

The blisters may burst, causing crusty sores that may become infected.

What causes pemphigus?

Pemphigus happens when your immune system attacks healthy skin, forming blisters.

Doctors do not know what causes the immune system to turn on the body’s own proteins, but they believe that both your genes and environmental factors are involved.

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