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Lahey Health is now part of Beth Israel Lahey Health

by EBSCO Medical Review Board
(EB)

Definition

Epidermolysis bullosa (EB) is a group of rare, inherited skin problems. It makes the skin very easily damaged. Even light contact can cause painful blistering.

There are different types of EB. The severity of symptoms can vary among types.

Causes

EB is caused by a genetic defect. It may be passed from one or both parents. The genetic change may also randomly develop in someone.

Rarely, EB may happen when a person’s immune system attacks healthy cells. It is not known why this happens.

Risk Factors

The risk of this problem is higher in people who have family members with EB.

Symptoms

A person with EB has fragile skin. It can be damaged easily from touch or activity. This causes painful blisters that are common on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Blisters can also happen in tissue that lines the mouth, eyes, intestines, and other areas.

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and past health. You may also be asked about your family history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the skin.

Tests may include:

  • A skin biopsy of a blister to look for signs of EB
  • Blood tests to look for the gene linked to EB

Treatment

There is no cure. The goal of treatment is to manage symptoms. Options are:

  • Wound care to decrease risk of infection
  • Medicine to ease pain
  • Taking steps to prevent skin injury, such as wearing loose clothing

Prevention

There are no known guidelines to prevent this health problem.

RESOURCES

American Academy of Dermatology  https://www.aad.org 

National Organization of Rare Disorders  https://www.rarediseases.org 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Dermatology Association  https://www.dermatology.ca 

Health Canada  https://www.canada.ca 

References

Epidermolysis bullosa. National Organization for Rare Disorders website. Available at: https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/epidermolysis-bullosa. Accessed May 18, 2021.

Epidermolysis bullosa. NHS website. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/epidermolysis-bullosa. Accessed May 18, 2021.

Epidermolysis bullosa acquisita. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/epidermolysis-bullosa-acquisita. Accessed July 12, 2021.

Inherited epidermolysis bullosa. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/inherited-epidermolysis-bullosa. Accessed July 12, 2021.

Revision Information