Exfoliative dermatitis is a skin disorder in which there is inflammation and scaling of skin, most often the entire skin of the body is involved. Many cases of exfoliative dermatitis occur as a result of drug reaction. The other reasons responsible for this uncommon but serious condition include preexisting skin disease. In few cases the cause is detected to be lumphoma (cancer of lymph gland).
Patient suffering from exfoliative dermatitis usually requires hospitalization. This condition accounts for one percent of all skin disease related hospital admissions. Men are more affected than women.Though the condition can occur at any age, it is common in people above the age of 50.
Early detection and treatment of the disease is important as late detection can have greater mortality rate. Especially mortality rate increases if there is secondary infection either cutaneous or systemic. Drug induced exfoliative dermatitis usually has short phase and resolves soon after the drug is withdrawn.
What Are The Causes Of Exfoliative Dermatitis?
- The most common cause of exfoliative dermatitis is reaction to drugs. The second common cause is underlying skin condition such as psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis etc. The remaining cause includes lymph gland cancer (lymphoma) and idiopathic causes.
- Medicine and drug reaction is considered as important cause for exfoliative dermatitis. Drug reaction in the initial stage may present itself as rashes and after some time the skin may begin to scale. Anti-hypertensive medicines, antibiotics, calcium channel blockers, are few of the drugs that may be responsible for exfoliative dermatitis.
- Underlying skin condition is also responsible for exfoliative dermatitis. Psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, stapylococal infections, Pityriaris rubra pilaris are some of the reasons that can give rise to exfoliative dermatitis.
- Lymphoma a type of cancer is also a major cause for development of this skin disorder.
- Some other reasons for exfoliative dermatitis include hepatitis, HIV infection etc.
Exfoliative Dermatitis Symptoms
Below are given the most common symptoms of exfoliative dermatitis.
- Redness of skin: There are few red patches in the beginning, often on the trunk, head and in the genital area. Later on it may spread to most of the skin surface. Usually, the palm, sole and mucus membrane is not affected.
- Scaling of skin is imminent once the erythema (redness) has developed. The scaling may occur in large portion of skin. In many cases the scalp is not spared and it may also result in alopecia.
- The skin becomes thick.
- There may be severe itching. The patient may feel malaise and may also feel chilly.
- Swollen lymph nodes in different parts of the body.
- Patient may become febrile. The temperature is usually higher than 38 degrees. Due to fever, the pulse and heart rate also increases.
- Liver and spleen is also enlarged.
- You may see the fluid leaking out from the damaged skin.
Treatment For Exfoliative Dermatitis
It is necessary to consult a dermatologist whenever there is scaling and redness of skin. With variety of diagnostic techniques, histopathological tests the disease can be diagnosed. As there is volume loss from the damaged skin in exfoliative dermatitis, patient is closely monitored for fluid and electrolyte loss in the hospital.
- The patient may be treated with oral anti histamines to reduce itching. Petroleum jelly and lukewarm soaks are also helpful to reduce itching in such cases.
- If the cause is detected to be medicine, it should be immediately withdrawn. Elimination of the medicine may soon clear up exfoliative dermatitis.
- If other skin condition such as psoriasis or atopic dermatitis is responsible for development of exfoliative dermatitis, treatment of the primary skin disease helps to alleviate the symptoms of exfoliatve dermatitis.
- Proper dressing of the skin and general care should be taken to prevent secondary infection.