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Bullous drug eruption in Adult
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Bullous drug eruption in Adult

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Contributors: Melissa Danesh MD, Susan Burgin MD
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Bullous drug eruption is a term used to describe a heterogeneous group of bullous diseases that are induced by medications. The following disease entities are included under the term bullous drug eruption:
  • Bullous fixed drug eruption – Active fixed drug eruption may become bullous when severe.
  • Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) / toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) – A rare, severe, and sometimes life-threatening drug eruption.
  • Drug-induced autoimmune blistering diseases (eg, linear IgA bullous dermatosis [LABD], drug-induced bullous pemphigoid, drug-induced pemphigus) – Autoimmune blistering disease that may be drug-induced. Penicillamine and captopril have been implicated in the causation of pemphigus vulgaris; vancomycin, lithium, angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, and diclofenac have been implicated in LABD; and there are a host of less well-studied drug associations for bullous pemphigoid
  • Drug-induced pseudoporphyria – Photoexposed skin fragility and blistering that resembles porphyria cutanea tarda and is usually drug induced.
  • Acute generalized exanthematous pustulosis (AGEP) – Characterized by tiny pustules on a background of erythema, AGEP may rarely have bullae and resemble SJS/TEN.
Depending on the underlying pathogenesis, bullae may be tense (eg, drug-induced bullous pemphigoid) or flaccid with a positive Nikolsky sign (eg, SJS/TEN, pemphigus vulgaris). Patients may have mucosal involvement, in which case SJS/TEN should be ruled out. Diagnosis often requires biopsy for hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) stain, often in conjunction with direct immunofluorescence when there is concern for autoimmune blistering disease (eg, LABD, drug-induced bullous pemphigoid, drug-induced pemphigus). Prognosis varies widely based on underlying subtype of bullous disease. Of the disease entities listed, SJS/TEN carries the worst prognosis.


L27.1 – Localized skin eruption due to drugs and medicaments taken internally

402750008 – Bullous dermatosis precipitated by drug treatment

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Drug Reaction Data

Below is a list of drugs with literature evidence indicating an adverse association with this diagnosis. The list is continually updated through ongoing research and new medication approvals. Click on Citations to sort by number of citations or click on Medication to sort the medications alphabetically.

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Last Reviewed: 06/11/2018
Last Updated: 06/12/2018
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Bullous drug eruption in Adult
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Bullous drug eruption : Erythema, Flaccid bullae, Scattered few, Skin erosion, Tense bullae
Clinical image of Bullous drug eruption
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