Symptoms of erythema multiforme

Most people with erythema multiforme will just have a rash,but other symptoms can alsosometimesoccur.


The rash comes on suddenly and develops over a few days. It tends to start on the handsor feet, before spreading to the limbs, upper body and face.

The rash:

  • starts as small red spots, which may become raised patches a few centimetres in size
  • often has patches that look like a target or "bulls-eye", witha dark red centrethat mayhavea blister or crust, surrounded bya pale pink ring and a darker outermost ring
  • may beslightly itchy oruncomfortable
  • usually fades over two to four weeks

In more severe cases, the patches may join together to formlarge, red areas that may be raw and painful.

Other symptoms

Additional symptoms of erythema multiforme can include:

  • a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or more
  • a Headaches
  • feeling generallyunwell
  • raw sores inside your mouth, making it hard to eat and drink
  • swollen lips covered in crusts
  • sores on the genitals, making itpainful to pee
  • sore, redeyes
  • sensitivity to light and blurred vision
  • aching joints

These symptoms are more common inerythema multiforme major ora similar condition called Stevens-Johnson syndrome .

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 21 Dec 2018