Journal Article
Systematic Review
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Triggers, clinical manifestations, and management of pediatric erythema multiforme: A systematic review.

BACKGROUND: Erythema multiforme (EM) is an acute inflammatory mucocutaneous condition. EM is rarely described in children and infants.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the triggers, clinical manifestations, and treatment of pediatric EM.

METHODS: Systematic literature review of pediatric EM.

RESULTS: After full-text article review, we included 113 articles, representing 580 patients. The mean age was 5.6 years, ranging 0.1-17 years. Infectious agents were the main triggers: herpes simplex virus (HSV) in 104 patients (17.9%) and Mycoplasma pneumoniae in 91 patients (15.7%). In total, 140 cases (24.1%) were drug-related and 89 cases (15.3%) had other triggers, such as vaccines (19 patients, 3.2%). In total, 229 patients had EM major (39.5%). Treatment was supportive care only (180 patients, 31.1%), systemic corticosteroids (115 patients, 19.8%), antivirals (85 patients, 14.6%), and antibiotics (66 patients, 11.3%), mostly macrolides (45 patients, 7.7%). Long-term sequelae were rare (1.3%). Pediatric EM was reported in 19 infants (3.2%). The main trigger was vaccination (9 patients). Infantile EM was EM major in 2 cases and EM minor in 17. Infants were less prone to develop EM major than older children (P < .01). Pediatric EM was recurrent in 83 cases (14.3%), which was triggered by HSV in 36 patients (61%). Recurrence affected older children.

LIMITATIONS: Potential confusion between Steven Johnson syndrome and EM major in addition to publication bias.

CONCLUSION: Pediatric EM is a rare disease, mainly triggered by infections. This condition can affect all mucosal surfaces, most commonly the oral mucosae. The diagnosis is clinical, and management relies on supportive care. Vaccines are a particular trigger in infants. Recurrent cases are most commonly linked to HSV. Dermatologists and pediatricians should be aware of this potentially recurrent and severe condition.

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