About blistering diseases

What are blistering diseases?
Blistering diseases are a rare group of diseases which cause blistering and erosions in the skin and/or mucous membranes. Blisters and erosions are painful, and can also cause problems with swallowing or vision. Being diagnosed with a rare, life-threatening and incurable disease can be quite frightening, and our aim is provide information and support for patients and their families.

Types of blistering diseases
Diseases covered by this organisation include:
Autoimmune blistering diseases

§ Bullous Pemphigoid
§ Pemphigus vulgaris
§ Pemphigus foliaceus
§ Paraneoplastic pemphigus
§ Mucous membrane pemphigoid
§ Epidermolysis bullosa acquisita
§ Linear IgA disease
§ Bullous lupus
§ Dermatitis herpetiformis

 

Genetic blistering diseases

§ Epidermolysis bullosa (EB)

 

What causes blistering diseases?
Normal skin contains a number of proteins that ‘glue’ the skin together. Inherited blistering diseases such as EB are caused by being born without a normal amount of these components. Auto-immune blistering diseases are caused by an aberrant immune response which attacks skin adhesion molecules. The cause of the abnormal immune process is not known. All these processes cause the skin to blister and form painful erosions.

How are they diagnosed?
Blistering diseases are diagnosed by a combination of clinical appearance and diagnostic tests. Special skin biopsies are needed to differentiate between different types of blistering diseases. Blood tests may also be used to measure the amount and type of auto-antibody in autoimmune blistering diseases, and for genetic testing in inherited blistering diseases.

How are they treated?
Autoimmune blistering diseases and EB cannot be cured, but they can be controlled. They are treated with medications which suppress the immune system. EB is treated with non-stick bandages and other supportive measures.