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Epidermolysis bullosa

What is Epidermolysis bullosa?

Find out more about EB and its symptoms.

What is Epidermolysis bullosa?

Epidermolysis bullosa (EB) is the name for a group of rare inherited skin disorders that cause the skin to become very fragile. Any trauma or friction to the skin can cause painful blisters.

Types of Epidermolysis bullosa?

The 3 main types of EB are:

  • epidermolysis bullosa simplex (EBS) – the most common type, which tends to be milder with a low risk of serious complications
  • dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (DEB) – which can range from mild to severe
  • junctional epidermolysis bullosa (JEB) – the rarest and most severe type

The type reflects where on the body the blistering takes place and which layer of skin is affected.

There are also many variants of these 3 main types of EB, each with slightly different symptoms.

Causes of Epidermolysis bullosa?

EB is caused by a faulty gene (gene mutation) that makes skin more fragile.

Usually, a child with EB will have inherited the faulty gene from a parent who also has EB.

It's also possible for a child with EB to have inherited the faulty gene from both parents who are just "carriers" but don't have EB themselves.

What are the symptoms of Epidermolysis bullosa?

The main symptoms of all types of EB include:

  • skin that blisters easily
  • blisters inside the mouth
  • blisters on the hands and soles of the feet
  • scarred skin, sometimes with small white spots called milia
  • thickened skin and nails

What is the treatment for Epidermolysis bullosa?

There's currently no cure for EB, so treatment aims to relieve symptoms and prevent complications developing, such as infection.

A team of medical specialists will help you decide what treatment is best for your child and offer advice about living with the condition.

You can manage EB at home by:

  • popping blisters with a sterile needle
  • applying protective dressings
  • avoiding things that make the condition worse

Medicines can be used to treat infection or to reduce pain. Surgery may be needed if EB causes narrowing of the food pipe or problems with the hands.

Further Information and Support

The following pages offer information to support people with EB and their friends, families and carers.

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