Exfoliative Dermatitis

Also known as erythroderma, exfoliative dermatitis is a rare disease of the skin that can affect the whole skin with severe inflammation along with substantial scaling, redness and swelling. It is not always known what causes this disease although some scientists believe it is a reaction to some drugs such as penicillin, sulfonamide and barbiturate or may be from underlying malignant cells. Underlying skin disorders such as atopic dermatitis and contact dermatitis can trigger the disease or cause complications. All causative factors are typically removed one the underlying cause is treated. Of dermatological patients admitted to the hospital, this disease accounts for under two percent. Mainly men are affected by this disease and it is most common in individuals over fifty-five years, although women can still get the disease.

The symptoms of this disease is caused by a drastic increase in the epidermal turnover rate. This means that the cells in the skin don’t have time to mature and transition through the epidermis. As a result of the larger loss of epidermal material there is flaking of the skin. Every day the normal epidermis undergoes exfoliation but not much essential protein and amino acids are lost. Those who have exfoliative dermatitis will have greater protein and folic acid losses.

Symptoms of Exfoliative Dermatitis

This condition will either appear suddenly or develop slowly. Signs of redness will be noticed on the whole skin surface and it may also shine. After this the skin will thicken, scale and them form a crust. Itching and swollen lymph nodes may be accompanied by hair and nail loss. A cold feeling will result even though the patient will have fever due to heat loss. She skin become vulnerable to secondary infections as a result of the protein and fluid loss. Exfoliative dermatitis typically first appears on the neck, skull and genitals before spreading to the rest of the body until the total skin area is affected with multiple pruritic eruptions. Usually the only areas not affected are the soles of the feet and the palms of the hand. Alopecia of the skull is developed by a quarter of the patients. Those with this disease are also at risk of getting methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus. Hypothermia may result from the bodies inability to control heat and this can be life threatening since it can cause a decrease in heart rate and subsequent hypertension. Blood flow that causes high blood pressure will increase the risk of cardiac failure. Rapid weight loss is possible in some patients.

Diagnosis For Exfoliative Dermatitis

To rule out other skin infections a doctor may do a physical examination and take blood samples. Laboratory tests are not usually done since the results are often inconclusive. Even if patients have a history of dermatitis a biopsy may not indicate exfoliative dermatitis. Underlying leukemia may show up on blood counts. Hepatitis and immune deficiency syndrome are also associated with this disease.

Types of Dermatitis Associated with Exfoliative Dermatitis

Some underlying conditions associated with exfoliative dermatitis include lichen planus, pemphigus, prurigo, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, mastocytosis, contact dermatitis, Reiter’s syndrome and ichthyosis.

Treatment for Exfoliative Dermatitis

To minimize the loss of fluid and protein in addition to preventing severe infections early treatment is important. People often receive intravenous fluids once they are hospitalized. To help fight the infection individuals are often given antibiotics as well as cool baths. Affected areas are normally treated by doctors by applying petroleum jelly and then covering with gauze. When other measures fail to reduce the symptoms and infections then corticosteroids are administered. This helps to treat any underlying conditions such as lymphoma. To prevent dehydration an individuals fluid and electrolyte levels are monitored closely. Phototherapy and the administering of immunosuppressant medications may also be used in treatment. To prevent an increase in infection then patients should try not to scratch.

If exfoliative dermatitis is caused by medication then the withdrawal of these drugs will lead to a full recovery within a short period of time. Recovery is also possible when patients are being treated for underlying skin disorders but they may take longer. When patients develop complications then the mortality rate is higher and most will die as a result of heart attacks or pneumonia.

Supplements for the Treatment of the Disorder

To help the body fight the disease there are also some supplements that can be administered. For an antioxidant and collagen formation an individual can take Vitamin C. To help sustain intermediary metabolism and stimulate the differentiation of the epidermal cells a water-soluble vitamin individuals can take it biotin. An essential supplement for the production of deoxyribonucleic acid for the body’s tissue cells is folic acid.

Anyone who experience exfoliative dermatitis should seek medical advice since it is a serious skin disorder that relies on early diagnosis and treatment to help prevent any life threatening complications from occurring.

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