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Erythema Multiforme (EM) is a hypersensitivity reaction usually triggered by infections, most commonly herpes simplex virus (HSV). It presents with a skin eruption characterised by a typical target (iris) lesion. There may be mucous membrane involvement. It is acute and self-limiting, usually resolving without complications.

Erythema multiforme is divided into major and minor forms and is now regarded as distinct from Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS) and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN).


Erythema multiforme most commonly affects young adults (20-40 years of age), however all age groups can be affected. There is a male predominance but no racial bias.

There is a genetic tendency to EM. Certain tissue types are more often found in people with herpes-associated EM (HLA-DQw3) and recurrent EM (HLA-B15, -B35, -A33, -DR53, -DQB1*0301).

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