Erythema multiforme is a skin condition that can be caused by an infection or some medicines. It usually gets better on its own in 2 to 4 weeks.
Check if it's erythema multiforme
The main symptom of erythema multiforme is a rash.
Sometimes you can get the rash inside your mouth or on your lips, eyes, anus or genitals. This can be painful.
You may also have other symptoms such as:
- a high temperature
- body aches and pains
- feeling generally unwell
Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:
- you have symptoms of erythema multiforme
- erythema multiforme keeps coming back
It may be possible to treat the cause of your symptoms.
Urgent advice: Ask for an urgent GP appointment or get help from NHS 111 if:
You think you have erythema multiforme and:
- the rash is inside your mouth or on your lips, eyes, anus or genitals
- the rash is painful
- you're finding it difficult to eat or pee
- you have a high temperature or body aches and pain
- the rash appeared after your started taking a new medicine
You can call 111 or get help from 111 online.
Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E if:
- you have a rash and the skin is red, swollen, blistered or peeling – redness may be harder to see on brown and black skin
- you're wheezing
- you get tightness in your chest or throat
- you have trouble breathing or talking
- your mouth, face, lips, tongue or throat start swelling
These may be signs of a serious reaction and may need immediate treatment in hospital.
Treatment for erythema multiforme
Erythema multiforme usually gets better on its own in 2 to 4 weeks.
Sometimes, you may need:
- moisturisers or steroid creams to speed up recovery and help ease symptoms like itching
- treatment for the infection that's causing it, such as antiviral medicine for a virus
Causes of erythema multiforme
If it's caused by a medicine, you usually need to stop taking it. But do not stop taking any medicines without talking to a doctor first.
Page last reviewed: 11 April 2023
Next review due: 11 April 2026