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a chronic disease characterized by a crop of blisters, or bullae, having a flaccid covering and serous-hemorrhagic contents; the blisters form on the apparently intact skin or mucosa of the oral cavity, larynx, eyes, and genitals. The blisters rapidly enlarge and multiply, bursting to form extensive ulcerated surfaces. The patient’s general condition is disturbed; there is general weakness and elevation of body temperature. Infection of the mouth and larynx makes food intake difficult.
The causes of pemphigus have not been conclusively determined. The disease usually afflicts middle-aged and elderly persons. The mechanism of formation of pemphigus vulgaris is acantholysis, a type of degenerative change in epidermal cells. It involves the dissolution of the intercellular bridges, degenerative change of the nuclei, and loss of part of the cell protoplasm. As a result, communication between the layers of epidermis is disrupted. In other forms of pemphigus, the blisters form as a result of an inflammatory process.
Pemphigus vulgaris progresses gradually, and cachexia develops. The prognosis for persons suffering from other forms of pemphigus is relatively favorable. Treatment includes the ingestion of hormonal preparations, antimicrobial agents, or analgesics. Disinfecting solutions may be applied externally.
S. S. KRIAZHEVA