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Bullous pemphigoid: corticosteroid treatment and adverse effects in long-term care patients.

Bullous pemphigoid (BP) is the most common autoimmune bullous disease. It primarily presents in elderly patients older than 70 years of age. The presentation can vary with localized or generalized disease that variably affects mucosal tissue. Therapy primarily consists of administration of topical and systemic corticosteroids. Topical corticosteroids are effective with less adverse effects compared with systemic steroids. Other therapies, such as steroid-sparing agents and plasma exchanges, have been recommended and studied to some degree, but these require more evidence before they can be routinely recommended. A 68-year-old African-American female resident of a nursing facility develops a rash and is evaluated at a dermatology clinic. Since the resident has many medications and concomitant diseases, the physician at first suspected a drug rash. On subsequent visits, the resident undergoes multiple punch biopsies and is diagnosed with BP. Treatment is initiated with topical steroids, systemic steroids, and oral minocycline. On a follow-up visit, the resident is showing improvement of her BP. However, the resident's hypertension and hyperglycemia are now uncontrolled as a result of the discontinuation of hydrochlorothiazide and the initiation of steroid therapy. This case highlights the dangers of corticosteroids in patients, especially the elderly, who have multiple comorbidities.

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