Behçet’s disease (BD) is a type of inflammatory disorder which affects multiple parts of the body. The most common symptoms include painful mouth sores, genital sores, inflammation of parts of the eye, and arthritis. The sores typically last a few days. Less commonly there may be inflammation of the brain or spinal cord, blood clots, aneurysms, or blindness. Often, the symptoms come and go.
The cause is unknown. It is believed to be partly genetic. Behçet’s is not contagious. Diagnosis is based on at least three episodes of mouth sores in a year together with at least two of the following: genital sores, eye inflammation, skin sores, a positive skin prick test.
There is no cure. Treatments may include immunosuppressive medication such as corticosteroids and lifestyle changes. Lidocaine mouthwash may help with the pain. Colchicine may decrease the frequency of attacks. The condition often improves with the passage of time.
While rare in the United States and Europe, it is more common in the Middle East and Asia. In Turkey, for example, about 2 per 1,000 are affected. Onset is usually in a person’s 20s or 40s. The disease was initially described by Turkish dermatologist Hulusi Behçet in 1937.