This patient information on Bullous Pemphigoid is provided by John L. Meisenheimer, M.D. a board certified Dermatologist and skin care specialist based in Orlando, Florida. This information is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice or treatment of a dermatologist or other physician.
What is it? Bullous Pemphigoid is a rare blistering disease of the skin, occurring in about one out of 200,000 people. It can occur at any age, but is more commonly seen in adults over the age of sixty. Typically it appears as red patches of skin which later begin to develop blisters. Bullous Pemphigoid can be localized to one area of the body or be widespread. The blisters frequently rupture to leave eroded areas of skin. Occasionally blisters may form in the mouth which can be more serious.
What causes it? Bullous Pemphigoid is an autoimmune disease of the skin. This means your immune system, for some unknown reason, begins to think that parts of your skin are foreign invaders. Your immune system begins to attack your skin which causes the blisters to form.
Is it dangerous? In some cases the involvement may be severe, and the condition can be very serious. Most people do well with treatment.
How is it diagnosed? I may suspect the diagnosis of Bullous Pemphigoid based on the appearance of the blisters. I may also do a skin biopsy, where the skin is looked at under the microscope, as well as some blood tests. A special test called immunofluorescence is sometimes done on the skin biopsy to help with the diagnosis.
Can it be cured? The treatment program I put you on will help control or clear the disorder, but it is not a cure. Even if the blisters are totally cleared, you will still be predisposed to have repeat episodes. In some patients long disease free remissions are common, but repeat treatments may be needed and some may require continuous therapy. Treatment may take from one to five years before the disease completely subsides.
Will it spread? It can spread to involve any area of the skin. Treatment can often help control or prevent this spread.
Is it contagious? It is not contagious and you cannot "catch it" from anyone.
Was this caused by something I ate? No. Special diets or avoidance of certain foods will not improve the condition.