Merck Manual

Please confirm that you are a health care professional

honeypot link

Linear Immunoglobulin A (IgA) Disease


Daniel M. Peraza

, MD, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth University

Reviewed/Revised Jan 2022 | Modified Sep 2022
Topic Resources

Bullae are elevated, fluid-filled blisters ≥ 10 mm in diameter.

Linear IgA disease has two main clinical variants—bullous disease of childhood and adult linear IgA disease. Although they vary clinically in minor ways, their immunofluorescence patterns are identical. The IgA autoantibodies target several antigens within the dermal–epidermal junction.

Infections and penicillins trigger more than one fourth of childhood and adult cases. Vancomycin, diclofenac, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), captopril, and lithium also have been suggested as causes. Risk of linear IgA disease is increased in patients who have inflammatory bowel disease Overview of Inflammatory Bowel Disease Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes Crohn disease and ulcerative colitis, is a relapsing and remitting condition characterized by chronic inflammation at various sites in the gastrointestinal... read more (possibly with a related pathophysiology that involves a generation of autoantibodies) or lymphoproliferative cancers (in adults) but not other autoimmune disorders.

Symptoms and Signs of Linear IgA Disease

In linear IgA disease, vesicular or bullous skin lesions occur frequently in a clustered (herpetiform) arrangement. In younger children, the face and perineum are often involved, and spread to the limbs, trunk, hands, feet, and scalp is common. In adults, the trunk is almost always involved, and the scalp, face, and limbs are often involved. Lesions are often pruritic and may burn. Mucosal involvement is common in both age groups; milia are not characteristic.

Diagnosis of Linear IgA Disease

  • Skin biopsy and direct immunofluorescence

Diagnosis of linear immunoglobulin A disease is by skin biopsy and direct immunofluorescence. The histologic features are not specific, but direct immunofluorescence shows IgA deposited along the basement membrane zone in a linear fashion.

Treatment of Linear IgA Disease

  • Withdrawal of causative drugs

  • For mild disease, topical corticosteroids

  • For children, erythromycin

Drug-induced disease may be treated solely with withdrawal of the causative drug.

Mild disease can be treated with topical corticosteroids. Oral erythromycin can be used in children. Dapsone and sulfonamides (using doses and precautions similar to those for dermatitis herpetiformis Treatment Dermatitis herpetiformis is an intensely pruritic, chronic, autoimmune, papulovesicular cutaneous eruption strongly associated with celiac disease. Typical findings are clusters of intensely... read more Treatment ) and colchicine are alternatives for all ages. Often the cutaneous lesions respond before the mucosal lesions. Spontaneous remission occurs in most patients after 3 to 6 years.

Drugs Mentioned In This Article

Drug Name Select Trade
FIRVANQ, Vancocin, Vancocin Powder, VANCOSOL
Aspercreme Arthritis Pain Reliever, Cambia, Cataflam, Dyloject, Flector, Licart, Lofena, Motrin Arthritis Pain, PENNSAID, PROFINAC, Solaravix, Solaraze, VennGel One, Voltaren Arthritis, Voltaren Delayed-Release, Voltaren Gel, Voltaren Ophthalmic, Voltaren-XR, Xrylix II, Zipsor, Zorvolex
Eskalith, Eskalith CR, Lithobid
A/T/S, Akne-mycin, E.E.S., Emcin Clear , EMGEL, E-Mycin, ERYC, Erycette, Eryderm , Erygel, Erymax, EryPed, Ery-Tab, Erythra Derm , Erythrocin, Erythrocin Lactobionate, Erythrocin Stearate, Ilosone, Ilotycin, My-E, PCE, PCE Dispertab , Romycin, Staticin, T-Stat
NOTE: This is the Professional Version. CONSUMERS: View Consumer Version
quiz link

Test your knowledge

Take a Quiz!