Erythroderma is widespread scaling, peeling, and flaking of the skin. It is often accompanied by, itching, skin redness, and hair loss.
Exfoliative dermatitis; Dermatitis exfoliativa; Pruritus - exfoliative dermatitis
This condition may occur in severe cases of many common skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis. It is sometimes caused by an allergy to medicines, chemicals that come in contact with the skin, or by body-wide disease.
Sometimes the cause is unknown.
Symptoms may include any of the following:
There may be secondary infections of the skin.
Exams and Tests
The health care provider will perform an examination and ask about the symptoms. The skin will be carefully checked, often with an instrument called a dermascope. Most of the time, the cause can be identified after the exam.
If needed, the following tests may be ordered:
Since erythroderma can quickly lead to serious complications, the provider will start treatment right away. This usually involves strong doses of cortisone medicines to reduce inflammation.
Other treatments may include:
In serious cases, the person needs to be treated in the hospital.
Complications may include:
Risk for erythroderma may be reduced by following the provider's instructions on skin care for psoriasis or other skin conditions.
Habif TP. Exanthems and drug eruptions. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 14.
Whittaker S. Erythroderma. In: Bolognia JL, Schaffer JV, Cerroni L, eds. Dermatology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 10.
Review Date: 2/27/2018
Reviewed By: David L. Swanson, MD, Vice Chair of Medical Dermatology, Associate Professor of Dermatology, Mayo Medical School, Scottsdale, AZ. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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