Rare Primary Care News

Disease Profile

Epidermolysis bullosa

Prevalence estimates on Rare Medical Network websites are calculated based on data available from numerous sources, including US and European government statistics, the NIH, Orphanet, and published epidemiologic studies. Rare disease population data is recognized to be highly variable, and based on a wide variety of source data and methodologies, so the prevalence data on this site should be assumed to be estimated and cannot be considered to be absolutely correct.


US Estimated

Europe Estimated

Age of onset





Autosomal dominant A pathogenic variant in only one gene copy in each cell is sufficient to cause an autosomal dominant disease.


Autosomal recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of each gene of the chromosome are needed to cause an autosomal recessive disease and observe the mutant phenotype.


dominant X-linked dominant inheritance, sometimes referred to as X-linked dominance, is a mode of genetic inheritance by which a dominant gene is carried on the X chromosome.


recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of a gene on the X chromosome cause an X-linked recessive disorder.


Mitochondrial or multigenic Mitochondrial genetic disorders can be caused by changes (mutations) in either the mitochondrial DNA or nuclear DNA that lead to dysfunction of the mitochondria and inadequate production of energy.


Multigenic or multifactor Inheritance involving many factors, of which at least one is genetic but none is of overwhelming importance, as in the causation of a disease by multiple genetic and environmental factors.


Not applicable


Other names (AKA)



Skin Diseases


Epidermolysis bullosa (EB) is a group of genetic skin diseases that cause the skin to blister and erode very easily. In people with EB, blisters form in response to minor injuries or friction, such as rubbing or scratching.[2310] There are four main types of EB, which are classified based on the depth, or level, of blister formation:[1]

EB may then be further classified based on severity and specific symptoms, such as distribution (localized or generalized) and whether parts of the body other than the skin are affected. Specific sub-types may then be determined based on identifying the exact protein that is defective in a person with EB. This may be done by tests performed on a skin biopsy, or when possible, genetic testing.[1] Identifying the exact sub-type can be hard because there are many sub-types of EB. A person with any main type of EB may be mildly or severely affected, and the disease can range from being a minor inconvenience requiring modifying activities, to completely disabling and even fatal in some cases.[2]

EB may be caused by changes (mutations) in at least 18 genes that play various roles in the structure, integrity, and repair of the skin. Inheritance may be 
autosomal dominant or autosomal recessive depending on the type and subtype of EB a person has.[1] Management involves a multidisciplinary team of health care providers and involves wound care, pain control, controlling infections, nutritional support, and prevention and treatment of complications.[3]


Managing EB requires a multidisciplinary team of health care providers including a dermatologist, EB nurse who specializes in wound care, occupational therapist, nutritionist, and social worker. Various other specialists may be consulted as needed. Management should be individualized for each person depending on their age, severity, symptoms, complications, and priorities.

While there currently is no specific therapy for most forms of epidermolysis bullosa (EB), extensive clinical research regarding potential treatments is ongoing. At this time, management is mostly supportive and involves wound care, pain control, controlling infections, nutritional support, and prevention and treatment of complications. Monitoring for complications with laboratory testing and imaging studies is also important, although the frequency of these tests will vary depending on the type of EB and severity in each person. Newborns with EB should be taken care of in a neonatal or pediatric unit that has the expertise, staffing, and resources necessary to manage severe skin erosions and potential complications.

More detailed information about the treatment and management of EB can be viewed here on Medscape Reference's website. You may need to register to view the information, but registration is free.

Management Guidelines

  • DebRA International has developed clinical practice guidelines for epidermolysis bullosa which provide recommendations for clinical care. These clinical guidelines are for patients as well as healthcare professionals.
  • Project OrphanAnesthesia is a project whose aim is to create peer-reviewed, readily accessible guidelines for patients with rare diseases and for the anesthesiologists caring for them. The project is a collaborative effort of the German Society of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care, Orphanet, the European Society of Pediatric Anesthesia, anesthetists and rare disease experts with the aim to contribute to patient safety.


    Support and advocacy groups can help you connect with other patients and families, and they can provide valuable services. Many develop patient-centered information and are the driving force behind research for better treatments and possible cures. They can direct you to research, resources, and services. Many organizations also have experts who serve as medical advisors or provide lists of doctors/clinics. Visit the group’s website or contact them to learn about the services they offer. Inclusion on this list is not an endorsement by GARD.

    Organizations Supporting this Disease

      Social Networking Websites

      • RareConnect is an online social network for patients and families to connect with one another and share their experience living with a rare disease. The project is a joint collaboration between EURORDIS (European Rare Disease Organisation) and NORD (National Organization for Rare Disorders). Click on the link above to view the community for Epidermolysis bullosa.

        Learn more

        These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.

        Where to Start

        • DermNet NZ is an online resource about skin diseases developed by the New Zealand Dermatological Society Incorporated. DermNet NZ provides information about this condition.
        • The Mayo Clinic Web site provides further information on Epidermolysis bullosa.
        • MedlinePlus was designed by the National Library of Medicine to help you research your health questions, and it provides more information about this topic.
        • The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) support research into the causes, treatment, and prevention of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases, the training of basic and clinical scientists to carry out this research, and the dissemination of information on research progress in these diseases. Click on the link to view information on this topic.
        • The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) has a report for patients and families about this condition. NORD is a patient advocacy organization for individuals with rare diseases and the organizations that serve them.

          In-Depth Information

          • GeneReviews provides current, expert-authored, peer-reviewed, full-text articles describing the application of genetic testing to the diagnosis, management, and genetic counseling of patients with specific inherited conditions.
            Epidermolysis Bullosa Simplex
            Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa
            Junctional Epidermolysis Bullosa
            Kindler Syndrome
            Epidermolysis Bullosa with Pyloric Atresia
          • Medscape Reference provides information on this topic. You may need to register to view the medical textbook, but registration is free.
          • The Monarch Initiative brings together data about this condition from humans and other species to help physicians and biomedical researchers. Monarch’s tools are designed to make it easier to compare the signs and symptoms (phenotypes) of different diseases and discover common features. This initiative is a collaboration between several academic institutions across the world and is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Visit the website to explore the biology of this condition.
          • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Epidermolysis bullosa. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.


            1. Laimer M, Bauer J, Murrell DF. Epidemiology, pathogenesis, classification, and clinical features of epidermolysis bullosa. UpToDate. Waltham, MA: UpToDate; June 21, 2017; https://www.uptodate.com/contents/epidemiology-pathogenesis-classification-and-clinical-features-of-epidermolysis-bullosa.
            2. Epidermolysis bullosa. NORD. June 27, 2013; https://www.rarediseases.org/rare-disease-information/rare-diseases/byID/1/viewAbstract. Accessed 10/14/2014.
            3. Murrell DF. Overview of the management of epidermolysis bullosa. UpToDate. Waltham, MA: UpToDate; February 28, 2018; https://www.uptodate.com/contents/overview-of-the-management-of-epidermolysis-bullosa.
            4. Intong LR, Murrell DF. Inherited epidermolysis bullosa: new diagnostic criteria and classification. Clin Dermatol. January-February, 2012; 30(1):70-77.

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