What is Pemphigus Foliaceus?
Pemphigus foliaceus is a type of Pemphigus, a group of autoimmune disease wherein the skin and the mucous membranes are affected. PF or Pemphigus foliaceus is a benign type of Pemphigus where the intercellular adhesion is lost causing formation of blisters. Typically the skin looks healthy but when rubbed, there is a Nikolsky sign or blister formation.
This condition is very rare since most of the autoimmune diseases do not form blisters but in pemphigus, there is a formation of desmoglein. The desmoglein then forms “glue” and it attaches to the epidermal cells of the skin. Then the antibodies will attack the desmoiglein causing blisters and eventually skin sores.
Types of pemphigus
There are 3 types of pemphigus. Theyare the
- pemphigus vulgaris
- pemphigus foliaceus and
- paraneoplastic pemphigus.
The most severe amongst the three is the paraneoplastic pemphigus. This is a complication of a certain type of cancer like lymphoma. The most common is the pemphigus vulgaris where it originates in the oral cavity specifically the mouth. It makes the person have difficulty when eating. Least severe is the pemphigus foliaceus wherein it originates in the scalp then goes down to the face, moving to the back and chest. Other times, this condition can be misdiagnosed with eczema or dermatitis by the physicians since this is a very rare condition.
Pemphigus Foliaceus in Dogs, Cats
Pemphigus Foliaceus in Dogs
Like in human beings, pemphigus foliaceus in dogs will also produce blisters but it is filled with pus. For the canines, this is an autoimmune disease that their antibodies will attack the desmoiglein I, a compound found in their body naturally. This can just happen due to reactions on certain medications or it can happen without a cause. Pemphigus foliceus is common in dog breeds like Akita, bearded collies, chow chos, dachshunds, Newfoundland dogs and even Finnish spitz.
Vets would do a skin biopsy by taking a sample on the affected area to diagnose the problem. then the treatment goal will include suppression of the immunity to avoid attacking the canine’s body. Corticosteroids will also be given like prednisone but dog owners should be watchful of the side effects like weight gain, excessive thirst and even heavy panting amongst the dogs. But as long as the treatment plan works for the dog, the canine’s prognosis is good.
Pemphigus Foliaceus in Cats
Pemphigus foliaceus in cats will appear in isolated places that may be difficult to see at first but it usually appears in the cat’s nose bridge or on their ears. Then following the symptom, the cat’s nose will lose its normal structure and color. After a while, the feline will then experience different types of infection especially skin infections. And lastly, the development of blisters and pus will be visible around the cat’s body and when it ruptures, it will immediately drug and turn to crust.
When bough to the vet clinic, the doctor will then take a complete history and perform physical assessment along with the skin biopsy. Pets will be given anesthesia since biopsy is very painful. Once diagnosed, the treatment should start immediately but treating cats with pemphigus foliaceus can be quite challenging. The treatment plan includes taking of corticosteroids like prednisone. This can be given orally especially in milk cases of pemphigus foliaceus. If there are bacterial infections, antibiotics may also be given.
Pemphigus Foliaceus Treatment
When it comes to treating patients with pemphigus foliaceus, the dermatologist needs to take the necessary data first before starting the treatment. Taking a skin biopsy is needed in order to ensure that the problem is not cancer and then the samples will be taken and studied in the laboratory.
The main goal of treatment is to prevent complications since ruptured blisters will result to sores making the body susceptible to bacterial infections. This can be fatal.
Initially, a non-steroidal treatment would be the first choice. Mestinon may be given in order to slow the progression of the problem and treat mild cases of the PF.
If there is no progression, then corticosteroids may be given. This can be topical or can be taken orally depending on the patient’s preference. Ointment such as clobetasol cream 0.05% is helpful when applied twice a day.
Antibiotic treatments should also be done in order to avoid further infection through the sores of the ruptured blister.
Pemphigus Foliaceus Pictures
Pemphigus Foliaceus on dogs