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Epidermolysis bullosa simplex

Other Names for this Disease
  • Epidermolysis bullosa intraepidermic
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What is epidermolysis bullosa simplex?

How is epidermolysis bullosa simplex inherited?

How might epidermolysis bullosa simplex be treated?

What is epidermolysis bullosa simplex?

Epidermolysis bullosa simplex (EBS) is one of the major forms of epidermolysis bullosa, a group of genetic conditions that cause the skin to be very fragile and to blister easily. EBS is classified into two groups of subtypes by the layer of skin at which the peeling originates. The basal subtypes cause skin peeling at the lower layers of the epidermis. The most common basal subtypes include EBS localized, Dowling Meara EBS, Generalized other EBS and EBS with muscular dystrophy. More rarely seen basal subtypes include EBS with mottled pigmentation, EBS with pyloic atreseia, EBS Ogna, and EBS circinate migratory.The suprabasal subtypes cause skin peeling at the upper layers of the epidermis and include the rare forms known as Lethal acantolythic EB, Plakophilin deficiency, and EBS superficialis (EBSS). [1] Symptoms of EBS range from mild in the Weber-Cockayne type to severe with blistering that is present at birth or after. Milder phenotypes of EBS have blistering confined to the limbs, whereas in the most severe Dowling Meara type, blisters may also form in the mouth. All of the types are typically caused by mutations in the KRT5 and KRT14 genes. They are usually inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern, but autosomal recessive inheritance has occurred in rare cases.[2] Treatment plans differ depending on severity but typically focus on preventing formation of blisters, caring for blistered skin, and treating infection.[3]
Last updated: 7/22/2011

How is epidermolysis bullosa simplex inherited?

Epidermolysis bullosa simplex (EBS) is usually inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern, which means one copy of the altered (mutated) gene in each cell is sufficient to cause the condition. The mutated gene may be inherited from an affected parent, or it may occur for the first time in the affected individual.[4][5] When an individual affected with an autosomal dominant condition has children, each child has a 50% (1 in 2) chance to inherit the mutated gene and be affected.

In rare cases, EBS is inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern. Autosomal recessive inheritance means the condition results when both copies of the gene in each cell have a mutation (one copy inherited from each parent). The parents of an individual with an autosomal recessive condition typically each carry one copy of the mutated gene and are referred to as carriers. Carriers are typically unaffected and do not have signs or symptoms of the condition.[4] When two carriers for an autosomal recessive condition have children, each child has a 25% (1 in 4) risk to have the condition, a 50% (1 in 2) risk to be a carrier, and a 25% risk to not have the condition and not be a carrier.

Affected individuals or family members who are unsure of the inheritance pattern of EBS in their family and are interested in learning more about this should consult with a genetics professional.

Last updated: 8/7/2012

How might epidermolysis bullosa simplex be treated?

There is no cure for any of the types of epidermolysis bullosa simplex (EBS). Treatment of EBS typically involves supportive care to protect the skin from blistering, and the use of dressings that will not further damage the skin and will promote healing. Prevention of blisters may involve applying aluminum chloride to palms and soles to reduce blister formation; cyproheptadine may be used to reduce blistering in some individuals with the Dowling-Meara type of EBS. Keratolytics and softening agents for hyperkeratosis (thickening of the skin) of the palms and soles may prevent tissue from thickening and cracking. Prevention of secondary complications (such as infection of blisters) may involve treatment with topical and/or systemic antibiotics or silver-impregnated dressings or gels. Appropriate footwear and physical therapy may preserve ambulation in children with difficulty walking because of blistering and hyperkeratosis. Surveillance is recommended for infection and proper wound healing. Avoiding excessive heat, poorly fitting or coarse-textured clothing and footwear, and activities that traumatize the skin is typically recommended.[6] Other treatments under investigation for epidermolysis bullosa include protein therapy and gene therapy.[7]
Last updated: 1/19/2011

  1. Fine JD. Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases (OJRD). May 2010; Accessed 7/6/2011.
  2. Epidermolysis Bullosa Simplex. Genetics Home Reference. April 2007; Accessed 1/19/2011.
  3. Epidermolysis Bullosa. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). July, 2009; Accessed 1/19/2011.
  4. Epidermolysis bullosa simplex. Genetics Home Reference (GHR). 2007; Accessed 5/5/2010.
  5. EB Simplex: Koebner Subtype of EB Simplex. Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa Research Association of America (DebRA). 2003; Accessed 5/5/2010.
  6. Ellen G Pfendner and Anna L Bruckner. Epidemolysis Bullosa Simplex. GeneReviews. August 11, 2008; Accessed 1/19/2011.
  7. Kevin Berman. Episdermolysis Bullosa. MedlinePlus. October 31, 2008; Accessed 1/19/2011.