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Erythema Multiforme Symptoms & Diagnosis


Symptoms can vary from mild to severe. If you have any of these do not assume it is due to erythema multiforme. These symptoms may be caused by other health conditions. If you experience any one of them, see your doctor.

  • Skin lesions or spots
    • Typically appear over 3-4 days
    • Start on hands and feet and spread to legs, arm, and face
    • Spots start out as small, red areas, and progress to look like mini targets
    • Spots may blister
    • Rash appears equally on both sides of the body
    • Rash resolves in 1-6 weeks

    Red Blistered Skin

    Skin blister boil
    © 2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.

  • Other possible symptoms include:
    • Itching
    • Fever
    • Overall ill feeling
    • Achy joints
    • Vision problems
    • Bloodshot or dry eyes
    • Burning, painful, or itchy eyes
    • Mouth sores


Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and medical history. You may be referred to a doctor who specializes in skin problems.

Most cases can be diagnosed based on your medical history and skin exam. If target lesions are present, then diagnosis is clear. The skin lesions may not be typical. In this case, a biopsy of the skin may be done. The skin sample is examined under a microscope.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2023 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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