Enanthema – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment


As an enanthem develops, the tiny vessels of the mucous membranes (so-called capillaries) swell up and become inflamed as a result of a reaction of the immune system . This leads to the red, blotchy coloring of the mucous membrane that is typical of an enanthema and can be accompanied by swelling, burning, itching or even pain.

What is an enanthem?

In medical jargon, an enanthema is any form of rash in the area of ​​the mucous membranes, with the oral mucosa being affected in most cases .

These are usually reddish patches or larger areas of red in the mouth or throat , which may also be swollen. The appearance of vesicles is also possible with such an enanthem.


Various causes can be held responsible for the reddish rash on the mucous membranes in an enanthem.

It often occurs as a typical symptom in the course of infectious diseases that can be triggered by viruses (e.g. chickenpox , rubella , measles ) or bacteria (e.g. scarlet fever , syphilis , typhus ).

In infants and young children, the rare Kawasaki syndrome , a disease of the lymph nodes, can also be the trigger for mucosal rashes. In addition to the various diseases, in some cases allergies (e.g. to medication or certain foods) or poisoning (e.g. from care products) are the reason for the occurrence of an enanthem.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

An enanthem is associated with various unpleasant symptoms, all of which have a very negative effect on the sufferer’s quality of life. The patients primarily suffer from a severe rash, which mainly occurs on the mucous membranes. As a rule, the symptoms of the enanthema also depend very much on the respective underlying disease.

If the disease occurs as a result of poisoning , most patients also suffer from severe abdominal pain , nausea or even vomiting . Various infectious diseases are accompanied by severe itching and scaly skin. Often the enanthema can also lead to inferiority complexes or to a significantly reduced self-esteem in those affected.

For this reason, the disease leads to psychological upsets or severe depression . The disease can also severely restrict the everyday life of those affected, since the use of certain care products is no longer easily possible due to the enanthema. In the case of an allergy , however, the symptoms disappear on their own after a short time.

If an enanthema is left untreated, it will not go away if it has a bacterial cause. The disease can spread to other areas of the body and possibly reduce the life expectancy of the patient.

Diagnosis & History

An enanthema is usually detected by a medical examination of the affected mucous membranes. The survey of other symptoms that occur makes it possible to quickly diagnose the infectious diseases that are responsible for the rash in many cases.

In the course of an improvement in the respective underlying disease, the mucous membrane rash usually subsides quickly and without consequences in addition to the other symptoms. However, if poisoning or allergies are the cause, the diagnosis is more difficult to make. A specialist examination is then often necessary, for example by a dermatologist , who can carry out the appropriate tests.

If the allergenic or poisoning substance is finally identified and the mucous membrane no longer comes into contact with it (e.g. by omitting certain medications or avoiding food or care products), the enanthema usually regresses within a short time.

When should you go to the doctor?

If rashes appear on the mucous membranes in the mouth, a doctor should be consulted. Further spread of the rash, which is additionally accompanied by swelling, indicates an enanthem. A doctor’s visit is recommended if the symptoms do not go away on their own or cause severe pain.

If you have difficulty swallowing, speech disorders or problems with eating, it is best to consult your family doctor immediately. In any case, swelling of the mucous membranes must be clarified and, if necessary, treated in order to rule out further complications and long-term effects. Therefore, the following applies: consult a general practitioner at the first sign of illness.

If complications such as itching, injuries or symptoms of poisoning occur, the medical emergency service is the right contact person. Breathing difficulties and drowsiness must also be checked out immediately, because if left untreated, these symptoms can lead to a life-threatening condition.

People with allergies and those suffering from an infectious or bacterial disease are particularly susceptible to enanthema. Swelling of the mucous membrane can also occur in the context of typhus, scarlet fever and syphilis. Anyone affected by this should speak to a doctor.

Treatment & Therapy

The treatment of an enanthema always depends on the underlying disease. In the case of bacterial infectious diseases such as scarlet fever or syphilis, treatment with antibiotics is the first choice.

If the bacteria in the organism are then killed in the course of therapy, the symptoms and thus the rash will recede. The enanthema can also be treated locally (eg with lotions or rinses) if the patient is experiencing severe symptoms. In the case of viral infections such as rubella or chickenpox, the most severe symptoms are also treated with medication.

If the rash is particularly pronounced in such an infection, it can be treated locally with appropriate drugs, as in the case of a bacterial disease. Drugs with an antiallergic effect are used in the treatment of allergic enanthema, and in most cases the enanthema of poisoning is also treated with appropriate drugs after diagnosis.

Avoiding the respective triggering substances also serves as an effective method of treatment.

Outlook & Forecast

An enanthema usually has a good prognosis. If the causative pathogen or allergen is identified and further contact with it avoided, the skin changes resolve within a few days. Those affected usually feel a slight itching and discomfort for some time. With appropriate treatment, however, they are free of symptoms after a week at the latest.

If the mucous membranes come into contact with the triggering substance again, chronic symptoms can set in under certain circumstances. For example, recurring enanthema can lead to scarring and damage to the underlying tissue layers. This can result in permanent sensory disturbances.

If the reddish rash is caused by a serious infectious disease, depending on the cause, complications can occur that slow recovery. In the case of chickenpox or measles, for example, the skin changes can spread across the board, which is associated with severe symptoms. There is also a risk that those affected will scratch the enanthema, which is usually very itchy, and cause infections or scars.

In principle, however, the prognosis for an enanthem is good. Assuming early therapy by an allergist , the patient will be symptom-free again after a short time. The enanthema itself is not contagious and does not affect the life expectancy of those affected.


Effective prevention generally only exists for an enanthema caused by allergy or intoxication. For this, however, the respective allergy must be known, because this is the only way to avoid the substance that leads to the allergic reaction of the mucous membranes.

This is also the case with the substances that cause poisoning enanthemums, because only if there is no contact with the substance in question can no rash develop as a reaction of the body. In contrast, an infection with viruses or bacteria, which is accompanied by an enanthema as a symptom, is difficult to prevent.

Avoiding contact with people who are already ill and generally strengthening the immune system can be effective preventive measures in such cases, as can basic hygiene measures (eg regular hand washing or disinfection after contact with people who may be ill).


In the case of an enanthem, the patient is primarily dependent on rapid and, above all, early medical examination and treatment. This is the only way to avoid further complaints. In the worst case, this can lead to serious complications that are no longer reversible and can no longer be treated.

For this reason, in most cases, no special aftercare measures are available to those affected. The earlier the disease is detected, the better the further course is in most cases. In most cases, those affected with an enanthem are dependent on taking medication.

Primarily, antibiotics are prescribed. These should be taken as directed by a doctor. Even after the symptoms have subsided, they should continue to be taken if this has been prescribed by the doctor. Alcohol should be strictly avoided when taking it, otherwise the effect will be reduced.

Bed rest and relaxation also have a positive effect on the further course of the disease. Furthermore, the triggering substance should be avoided in order not to recreate the enanthema. As a rule, this disease does not reduce the patient’s life expectancy.

You can do that yourself

Self-help measures for an enanthem depend on the cause of the rash. An enanthem can develop as part of infectious diseases, allergies, psychological problems or stress . To do this, it is first important that a doctor finds out the cause of the enanthema.

A rash often occurs as part of a highly contagious infectious disease such as scarlet fever, measles, rubella, smallpox or herpes. If an infectious disease is present, the first thing after diagnosis is to rest at home and avoid close contact with other people. In this way, the spread of the pathogen can be stopped. In addition to bed rest , taking the drugs prescribed by the doctor to accelerate healing is necessary.

However, there is often an allergy or food intolerance. After the doctor has determined which foods or substances can lead to a rash, these should be strictly avoided. The patient often finds out for himself what he cannot tolerate through self-observation. Sometimes these are specific ointments or creams.

Certain medications can also develop intolerance in some patients, which then leads to an enanthem. It should then be clarified with a doctor which medication could be used with the same effect. Furthermore, foods that have been shown to trigger an enanthem in the affected person should be strictly avoided.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.