Pemphigus Erythematosus

Updated: Mar 02, 2018
  • Author: Rakesh Bharti, MD, AAHIVS; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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The various types of pemphigus include pemphigus erythematosus, pemphigoid, pemphigus vegetans, pemphigus vulgaris, and pemphigus foliaceus.

Pemphigus erythematosus, also known as Senear-Usher syndrome, is an overlap syndrome with features of lupus erythematosus (LE) and pemphigus foliaceus. Pemphigus is demonstrated by acantholysis and immunoglobulin deposits in the interkeratinocyte substance (see the image below).

Direct immunofluorescence microscopy performed on Direct immunofluorescence microscopy performed on epithelial biopsy specimen obtained from a patient with pemphigus vulgaris detects immunoglobulin G deposits at the epithelial cell surfaces.

Pérez-Pérez et al recently hypothesized that pemphigus erythematosus is a multiple autoimmune disease. [1]

High doses of UV light are suggested to be the cause of cleavage of the desmoglein-1 ectodomain. As in cases of pemphigus foliaceus the circulating anti–desmoglein-1 antibodies precipitate this cleaved off ectodomain along with the basement membrane zone, resulting in a lupus band–like appearance.

The lupus component of pemphigus erythematosus is demonstrated by circulating antinuclear antibodies (ANA) and sometimes by immunoglobulin and complement deposits at the dermoepidermal junction

For a thorough description and introduction to the possible causes of pemphigus, see the article "Pemphigus: An Acronym for a Disease with Multiple Causes ", published by the International Pemphigus Society. [2]



Patients with pemphigus erythematosus present with vesiculobullae or superficially eroded lesions, which may ooze and crust, particularly in sun-exposed areas, such as the face, the upper part of the chest, and the back.



Patients with pemphigus develop an autoimmune response directed against desmosomes. [3] In patients with pemphigus foliaceus and its variant, pemphigus erythematosus, the target antigen is desmoglein 1. Desmogleins are desmosomal proteins important in keratinocyte adhesion. The binding of autoantibodies is postulated to result in a cascade of biochemical intracellular events that eventuates in the loss of desmosome function. Additionally, certain HLA haplotypes (A10 or A26, DRW6) are thought to be associated, suggesting a genetic predisposition.

Relapse of pemphigus erythematosus has been associated with atorvastatin intake. [4]




The incidence of pemphigus is 0.5-3.2 cases per 100,000 population per year. Patients with pemphigus erythematosus comprise only a small subgroup of those with pemphigus. Kumar from India, in a 2008 article, reported a high prevalence (4.4 cases per million population). [5]


Pemphigus erythematosus, like other variants of pemphigus erythematosus and LE, may be increased in patients who express specific human leukocyte antigen (HLA) haplotypes. Those identified to have pemphigus erythematosus are positive for human leukocyte antigen A10 (HLA-A10) or human leukocyte antigen A26 (HLA-A26) and human leukocyte antigen DRW6 (HLA-DRW6).


Reports generally find no difference in occurrence of pemphigus erythematosus between the 2 sexes.


Pemphigus erythematosus may occur at any age, but it is unusual in children.



The prognosis of pemphigus erythematosus is better than that of pemphigus vulgaris. With good dermatologic care, patients with pemphigus erythematosus are often able to live normal lives. Some patients may ultimately develop symptoms classified as criteria for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR).


Patient Education

Patient education about possible triggers for the pemphigus erythematosus is important. Patients should minimize sun exposure. Additionally, as in all photosensitive disorders, patient education on the use of sunscreens, protective clothing, and sun-smart behaviors is a cornerstone of therapy.