Erythroderma is inflammation and scaling over the entire body.
Erythroderma is a rare condition in which almost all of the skin is scaling, red, and inflamed. Because such a large part of the body’s skin is affected, heat and water are lost more rapidly than normal, leading to increased shivering and a higher risk of dehydration. This condition is typically accompanied by widespread peeling of the skin.
There are multiple reasons why someone can develop erythroderma. Some of these reasons include:
- Psoriasis; if treated with systemic steroids
- Atopic dermatitis (eczema)
- Seborrheic dermatitis; particularly in young populations
- Medications; as there are many that can cause erythroderma and will require careful review by a healthcare provider
- Other forms of eczema-like skin conditions, such as contact dermatitis
- A genetic condition
- A cancer or lymphoma
A physician or healthcare provider may need to order laboratory and blood tests and perform biopsies to identify the underlying cause, which remains unknown in many cases.
The underlying cause of the erythroderma needs to be treated; any medications that contribute to the condition should be stopped. Topical medications such as steroids are typically used to reduce the inflammation, as are cool compresses and compression stockings. A moisturizer is frequently used to maintain the skin barrier.
Medications may be used to treat the underlying cause. Infections are treated with antibiotics or antifungals. Anti-inflammatory medications, such as steroids or biological agents, may also be used.
A biopsy may be performed by a qualified healthcare provider to get more information about what is causing the skin to become red and to better assess the diagnosis.
Imaging studies, such as a chest x-ray or a more complex imaging procedure, may be ordered by a healthcare provider to assess your general health.
When being seeing for erythroderma, a qualified healthcare provider may request a blood draw to get more information about the systemic effects of the inflammation that is seen in erythroderma.