Pemphigus Demystified: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Approaches

HK Vitals

Medically Reviewed By Dr. Aarti Nehra

Pemphigus, an uncommon autoimmune disorder, unveils its complexities through the painful and persistent formation of blisters on the skin and mucous membranes. In this blog, we will delve into pemphigus causes, unravel its diverse symptoms, and navigate the landscape of available treatments. Join us on a journey to understand the intricate world of pemphigus, providing insights into effective management strategies for those affected by this challenging skin condition.

What Is Pemphigus?

Pemphigus is a group of autoimmune skin diseases that can result in blisters, ulcers, or fluid-filled lumps on the skin. Additionally, these blisters may develop in your mucous membranes, which include the delicate linings of your mouth, throat, eyes, and genitalia. The blisters are tender and quickly burst, resulting in uncomfortable sores. Also, they run the risk of becoming infected and spreading to other parts of your body if left untreated. There are situations when pemphigus is mistaken for other autoimmune blistering skin disorders, such as lupus erythematosus, bullous pemphigoid, and Hailey-Hailey disease.

Having said all this, pemphigus is not communicable, and with continued medical care, the condition can be treated and managed for the rest of one’s life.

Causes of Pemphigus

Pemphigus causes are not specific, yet. But, according to research, your probability of being affected may be influenced by both environmental and hereditary factors. Pemphigus syndrome is an autoimmune disease. This indicates that your body’s defense mechanism, including antibodies, attacks your healthy cells because it believes they are alien invaders.

The illness can sometimes be caused by specific drugs, such as the antibiotic penicillin, the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug piroxicam (used to treat rheumatoid arthritis), and blood pressure medications.

According to some research, having particular HLA genes, which help your immune system function, predisposes you to developing particular kinds of illnesses such as pemphigus.

Signs and Symptoms

Blisters on the skin and mucous membranes are a symptom of pemphigus. Blisters burst readily, producing exposed wounds that could leak fluid and get infected.

The following are the distinctive symptoms and signs of two common kinds of pemphigus:

  • Pemphigus Vulgaris

This condition typically starts as mouth blisters and progresses to skin or mucous membranes in the genitalia. Usually, the blisters hurt, but don’t itch. Eating and swallowing may be difficult if you have blisters in your mouth or throat.

  • Pemphigus Foliaceus

Blisters of this kind appear on the shoulders, back, and chest. Usually, the blisters itch more than they hurt. Notably, mouth blisters are not caused by pemphigus foliaceus. Also, pemphigus is not to be confused with bullous pemphigoid, an inflammatory skin disease that primarily affects older persons and can be fatal.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Pemphigus

Diagnosing pemphigus involves a thorough clinical examination, blood tests to detect pemphigus antibodies, and a crucial skin biopsy for histopathological examination. Treatment strategies focus on suppressing the autoimmune response, commonly employing systemic corticosteroids as initial therapy. Immunomodulatory agents like azathioprine or mycophenolate mofetil may be prescribed to reduce reliance on steroids. Supportive wound care, pain management, and ongoing monitoring are integral components of pemphigus management, requiring a collaborative approach between healthcare providers and patients to optimize outcomes.


Pemphigus, though rare, casts a long shadow on the lives of those affected. By delving into its complexities, understanding its origin, and exploring the multidimensional facets of its impact, we can cultivate empathy, support, and a collective commitment to finding solutions. As research continues to progress, the journey towards unraveling the mysteries of pemphigus becomes a collaborative effort, offering hope for improved quality of life and a brighter future for those navigating the challenges of this intricate autoimmune skin condition.

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