Endemic Pemphigus

Endemic pemphigus, also known as pemphigus foliaceus, is a rare autoimmune skin disorder that affects people living in certain regions or communities that primarily affects individuals living in rural areas of South America, Central America, and some parts of Africa. This condition is characterized by the formation of blisters and skin eruptions on various parts of the body, especially on the face, scalp, neck, and upper trunk.

The main hallmark of endemic pemphigus is the production of autoantibodies against the desmoglein 1 protein, which is a component of skin cells that helps to maintain the integrity of the skin barrier. These autoantibodies trigger an immune response that damages the skin cells, leading to the formation of blisters and skin eruptions.


Endemic pemphigus is a rare autoimmune skin disease that affects individuals living in certain geographic regions. The exact cause of endemic pemphigus is unknown, but several factors are believed to contribute to its development. These include:

  1. Genetics: Certain genetic predispositions may increase the likelihood of developing endemic pemphigus.
  2. Environmental factors: Exposure to environmental toxins, such as insecticides, heavy metals, and other pollutants, may contribute to the development of endemic pemphigus.
  3. Infections: Certain infections, such as streptococcal infections, may trigger the onset of endemic pemphigus.
  4. Autoimmunity: The disease is believed to be caused by an autoimmune response, where the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy skin cells.
  5. Epitope spreading: This is a phenomenon where the immune system begins to attack additional healthy cells and tissues after initially targeting a specific antigen.
  6. Inflammation: Chronic inflammation may also play a role in the development of endemic pemphigus.

It is important to note that the exact cause of endemic pemphigus is still unknown and more research is needed to fully understand this disease.


Endemic pemphigus, also known as endemic pemphigus foliaceus or fogo selvagem, is a rare autoimmune disorder that affects the skin and mucous membranes. The following are the main symptoms of endemic pemphigus:

  1. Blisters: Blisters are the hallmark of endemic pemphigus and usually develop on the face, neck, scalp, and trunk.
  2. Rashes: A rash may develop in areas affected by blisters.
  3. Crusting: The blisters may break and form crusts, which can be painful and itchy.
  4. Lesions: Endemic pemphigus can cause painful, red, or purplish lesions on the skin and mucous membranes.
  5. Scarring: The blisters may eventually heal and leave scars.
  6. Painful mouth sores: Endemic pemphigus can also cause painful mouth sores that can affect eating and speaking.
  7. Eye involvement: Endemic pemphigus can cause eye involvement, leading to conjunctivitis and corneal ulcers.
  8. Systemic symptoms: In severe cases, endemic pemphigus can cause systemic symptoms, such as fever, weight loss, and fatigue.

These symptoms can vary in severity and duration, and can recur throughout the course of the disease. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to manage endemic pemphigus and prevent complications.



  1. Clinical examination: A dermatologist will examine the skin for characteristic blisters, crusts, and erosions.
  2. Skin biopsy: A skin biopsy is usually performed to confirm the diagnosis of pemphigus. The biopsy will reveal characteristic changes in the skin layers, including acantholysis (separation of skin cells).
  3. Direct Immunofluorescence (DIF): DIF is a laboratory test that detects the presence of antibodies against skin cells. The test is performed by applying a small amount of a patient’s serum to a thin layer of skin obtained from a biopsy.


  1. Blood tests: A complete blood count (CBC) and blood chemistry tests may be performed to check for anemia, low white blood cell count, or other signs of an autoimmune disorder.
  2. Antinuclear antibody (ANA) test: ANA test is used to detect the presence of antibodies that attack a person’s own cells. A positive ANA test result may indicate that the individual has an autoimmune disorder.
  3. IgG antibodies test: This test is used to detect the presence of IgG antibodies against skin cells. A positive result indicates that the person has pemphigus.
  4. Complement levels test: This test is used to measure the levels of complement, a group of proteins that help fight infections. Low complement levels may indicate an autoimmune disorder.

In conclusion, a combination of clinical examination, skin biopsy, and laboratory tests is necessary to diagnose endemic pemphigus. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for managing this condition effectively.


Endemic pemphigus, also known as fogo selvagem or wild fire, is a rare autoimmune skin disorder that is primarily seen in rural areas of South America, particularly in Brazil. The main treatment for endemic pemphigus involves a combination of medications and topical treatments.

  1. Corticosteroids: Corticosteroids are the mainstay of treatment for endemic pemphigus. They help to reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system. High-dose oral corticosteroids are often used initially to control the disease, followed by a tapering of the dose over time.
  2. Immunosuppressants: In some cases, immunosuppressants such as cyclophosphamide or azathioprine may be used in combination with corticosteroids to help control the disease. These medications work by suppressing the immune system, which is overactive in individuals with endemic pemphigus.
  3. Topical treatments: Topical treatments such as topical corticosteroids, calcineurin inhibitors, and topical immunoglobulins can be used to treat the skin lesions associated with endemic pemphigus.
  4. Phototherapy: Phototherapy, or exposure to ultraviolet light, can be helpful in reducing the severity of skin lesions. This treatment is typically used in combination with other medications.
  5. Plasmapheresis: Plasmapheresis, or plasma exchange, may be used in severe cases of endemic pemphigus to remove antibodies from the blood.
  6. Rituximab: Rituximab is a monoclonal antibody that targets the B cells, which are responsible for producing the antibodies that cause the skin lesions in endemic pemphigus. This medication may be used in severe cases of the disease that are not responsive to other treatments.

In conclusion, the treatment of endemic pemphigus is typically a combination of medications and topical treatments tailored to the individual patient’s needs. Regular follow-up with a dermatologist is important to monitor the disease and adjust treatment as needed.