What are the cutaneous findings characteristic of anaphylaxis?

Updated: May 16, 2018
  • Author: S Shahzad Mustafa, MD; Chief Editor: Michael A Kaliner, MD  more...
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Answer

In a local reaction, lesions occur near the site of a cutaneous exposure (eg, insect bite). The involved area is erythematous, edematous, and pruritic. If only a local skin reaction (as opposed to generalized urticaria) is present, systemic manifestations (eg, respiratory distress) are less likely. Local reactions, even if severe, are not predictive of systemic anaphylaxis on reexposure.

Angioedema (soft-tissue swelling) is also commonly observed. These lesions involve the deeper dermal layers of skin. It is usually nonpruritic and nonpitting. Common areas of involvement are the larynx, lips, eyelids, hands, feet, and genitalia.

Generalized (whole-body) erythema (or flushing) without urticaria or angioedema is also occasionally observed.

Cutaneous findings may be delayed or absent in rapidly progressive anaphylaxis.


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