Duke dermatologists diagnose autoimmune skin diseases like pemphigus, pemphigoid, scleroderma, morphea, dermatomyositis, dermatitis herpetiformis, vasculitis, lupus, and Sjögren’s syndrome -- all of which occur when the body’s immune system attacks healthy skin. The cause of these diseases is unknown but may relate to problems with the immune response. Our experienced doctors are dedicated to researching the causes of these rare skin diseases, testing new therapies, and providing relief from the itchy, blistering, or painful rashes that may affect the skin, mouth, and eyes.
About Autoimmune Skin Diseases
Many autoimmune skin diseases are related to disorders that affect other areas of the body. For example:
- Dermatitis herpetiformis is linked to celiac disease, and may cause blisters.
- Scleroderma and morphea cause the skin to become thick and rigid.
- Vasculitis causes inflammation of the blood vessels.
- Lupus can affect the skin, joints, and kidneys.
- Dermatomyositis can cause muscle inflammation and skin rashes.
- Sjögren's syndrome causes dry mouth, dry eyes, and sometimes dry skin.
Autoimmune Blistering Skin Diseases
These occur when the immune system attacks your healthy tissue. When this happens, skin cells cannot perform their normal functions and may turn into sores, blisters, or rashes. Diseases include bullous pemphigoid, which causes blistering on the body and sometimes in the mouth or eyes, and pemphigus, which causes blistering on the skin and in the mucous membranes in the mouth, nose, or genitals.
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Tests for Autoimmune Skin Diseases
Your comprehensive evaluation includes a review of your medical history, a complete skin exam, and a close examination of your rashes, blisters, and other symptoms.
Your doctor may order blood work to check for autoimmune factors such as antibodies or blood proteins that may be signs of inflammation.
The doctor removes a small sample of skin from an affected area, if necessary, to examine it and make an accurate diagnosis.
Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why we are once again recognized as the best hospital in North Carolina, and nationally ranked in 11 adult and 9 pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report for 2021–2022.
Why Choose Duke
Though these autoimmune blistering skin diseases are rare, our team of experts sees many people with these conditions. We have the skills to make an accurate diagnosis and the knowledge and experience to develop the right treatment plan for you.
A Team of Experts
Our immunodermatology group provides comprehensive care for patients with immune-mediated skin diseases. We work closely with Duke rheumatologists and many other specialists to provide you with the best possible care.
Research Leading to New Developments
Our dermatologists are involved in studies aimed at understanding the basic causes of these diseases; finding new, more sensitive diagnostic tests; and developing effective treatments. We use these advances to identify the cause of your discomfort and find the right treatment to relieve your symptoms and return you to the activities you enjoy.
Opportunities to Test New Treatments
You may be eligible to participate in our ongoing clinical trials to test new therapies for your condition before they are widely available.