What is exfoliative dermatitis?

Updated: Aug 15, 2019
  • Author: David Vearrier, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Barry E Brenner, MD, PhD, FACEP  more...
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Answer

Exfoliative dermatitis, or erythroderma, is an erythematous, scaly dermatitis involving at least 90% of the skin surface. The diagnosis of exfoliative dermatitis is based on skin findings on physical examination and not on the underlying etiology for the dermatitis, which is variable and may be idiopathic (see Differential Diagnosis).

Exfoliative dermatitis diffuse skin involvement Exfoliative dermatitis diffuse skin involvement

The term "erythroderma" was first used by Hebra in 1868 to describe exfoliative dermatitis affecting at least 90% of the skin surface area. [1] Historically, exfoliative dermatitis was classified by its clinical course into one of three variants: Wilson-Brocq (chronic-relapsing), Hebra (chronic-persisting or progressive), and Savill (self-limited). These classifications are no longer used as clinical focus has shifted to the underlying etiology for the dermatitis.


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