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Erythroderma is a common skin disorder that is accompanied by reddishness (erythema) of the skin and exfoliation of the skin. Exfoliation of the skin is almost 100%, severe inflammation of the skin results in erythroderma. Erythroderma is also known as generalized exfoliative dermatitis or erythrodermatitis. If the primary cause for the condition is not identified (idiopathic erythroderma), erythroderma is known as red man syndrome. This condition takes a longer time to settle down. This condition is more common people over 40 years and noticed more in men than in women.

Any already existing skin disorder can cause erythroderma. Apart from this, acute skin diseases like mycosis fungoides, psoriasis and contact dermatitis can cause erythroderma. Certain drugs or topical applications can cause erythroderma. In a few cases erythroderma can be an indication to other diseases or conditions like HIV, hematological malignancies etc. Common symptoms include redness, thickening and swelling of skin,itching, oozing of bad smelling fluid, ridged and thick nails and secondary infection with crusting and pustules. There is thick scale formation on the scalp resulting in hair loss. A dermatologist can diagnose erythroderma by conducting a skin biopsy, blood smear and patch test of the affected area.

Treatment varies according to individual cases. On establishing the exact cause, topical steroids are prescribed. Antibiotics are prescribed for secondary infections, if any. To control itching, antihistamines are prescribed.


Dermatitis is a skin condition characterized by inflammation or localized rash. This is usually caused due to an allergy or irritant. The affected area becomes red and tender and develops crusts, blisters or crusts. The affected skin may develop fluid-filled bumps or fissures. Contact dermatitis occurs when the skin comes into contact with a substance that triggers off an allergy or irritation. Substances that typically cause dermatitis are fragrances in detergents, laundry soap, industrial chemicals, perfumes, hair dyes, nickel jewelry, certain foods and plants. Poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac are common plant allergens. Allergic dermatitis is a condition where the body's immune system overreacts to a foreign body and produces antibodies. It results in itchy rash. Contact dermatitis is a condition resulting from contact with a substance that causes damage to your skin. Persons suffering from eczema are more susceptible to contact dermatitis. Creams containing hydrocortisone can help in alleviating the symptoms of contact dermatitis. Irritant contact dermatitis is caused due to the direct effect of an irritant substance on the skin. These substances may be found at home or at the work place or garden. Typically allergic contact dermatitis is easily noticed within 48 - 72 hours. Allergic contact dermatitis is a result of hypersensitive skin reacting to a particular substance. Atopic dermatitis is a result of an allergic condition. It is more common in families with allergies to hay fever, asthma and history of sensitive skin. When there is accumulation of fluid beneath your skin tissues, it leads to statis dermatitis. This type of skin condition can arise from various chronic conditions. Seborrheic dermatitis occurs on the scalp and may need to be treated with shampoos containing salicylic acid or ketoconazole. Use of hydrocortisone creams and lotions may also give relief. This condition is known as dandruff. It can affect the face and chest along with creases of the limbs.

Skin tests or patch tests help in clarifying the type of dermatitis. The physician must rule out eczema or psoriasis before looking for possible causes of dermatitis. A patch test can help in narrowing down the substance that triggers the dermatitis so that exposure can be avoided. Small areas of the skin are subjected to different allergens. This patch of skin is then covered and the reactions are noted after 2 days. Any swelling or rash is indicative of allergy towards that particular substance. Since there is no definite cure for atopic dermatitis, the physician will suggest treatment options based on the pattern, duration and severity of the condition. Simple ways of tackling dermatitis:

  • Showering or bathing in lukewarm water
  • Wearing smooth and soft clothes preferably made of natural fibers
  • Applying emollients. It is essential to keep your skin well moisturized. This can reduce the number of flare-ups.
  • Applying topical steroids on affected patches
  • Antihistamines can help in reducing irritation and itching
  • Calamine lotion may relieve itching
  • Wet wraps an help in cooling and moisturizing the skin and protecting it from damage due to scratching.

Tags: #Erythroderma #Dermatitis
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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: March 2, 2024