Causes and Symptoms of Exfoliative Dermatitis: How to Treat It?

To understand Exfoliative dermatitis, you need to understand the skin’s normal epithelial layer. The epidermis of the skin has a constant turn-over of epithelial cells. Cell division takes place near the basal layer. As the cells come near the edge, they become keratinized. This process takes ten days. Cells then stay in the stratum corneum for about 15 days before getting sloughed off.

Exfoliative dermatitis is an extensive scaling of the skin, frequently associated with pruritus or itching, erythroderma or redness of the skin, and loss of hair. Exfoliative dermatitis tends to involve most, if not all, of the skin.

What Causes Exfoliative Dermatitis?

  • Exfoliative dermatitis may be idiopathic; that is there is no known cause.
  • Exfoliative dermatitis is known to develop in people having severe cases of psoriasis or eczema.
  • An allergy to certain drugs is also a vital cause.
  • By and large, most cases involve a pre-existing skin disease.
  • An underlying systemic disease is an important contributing factor as well.

Common Signs and Symptoms

  • Scaling of the skin.
  • Redness of the skin.
  • Itching.
  • Some complain of fever and malaise.
  • Gynecomastia is a common finding and is supposed to be secondary to hyper estrogenism, however, the exact mechanism is not known.
  • Alopecia is common too.
  • Hypo-pigmentation and/or hyper-pigmentation may be a clinical feature.
  • Firm, rubbery lymph nodes are seen, these are referred to as dermatopathic lymphadenitis.
  • Enlargement of the liver and / or spleen are seen as well.
  • Steatorrhea occasionally develops and gets resolved when exfoliative dermatitis fades away.
  • Hypothermia is noted as well; along with edema and breathing difficulty.

Exfoliative Dermatitis Treatment

Exfoliative dermatitis calls for a multi disciplinary approach for its treatment – management:

  • A person with exfoliative dermatitis frequently requires hospital care or admission to the intensive-care unit. Supportive care is given to these patients.
  • Fluid replacement and contact isolation for protection against secondary bacterial and fungal infections is a must.
  • Protection from the development of hypothermia is vital.
  • Cool oat meal baths are prescribed.
  • Frequent tub baths contain emollients help in providing symptomatic respite.
  • Creams and moisturizers play an important role in skin care.
  • A high protein diet is recommended; eat plenty of legumes, pulses, beans, whole cereals, eggs, lean meat and fish
  • Vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin C supplements are essential.
  • Ensure that you consume about 3 spoons of flax seeds daily. Flax seeds are packed with omega 3 fatty acids, which are import for a healthy skin. You may also start an omega 3 fatty acid supplement to make up for nutritional deficiencies.
  • Treating the underlying disease is necessary given that exfoliative dermatitis resists all treatment plans until the fundamental disease is managed.
  • Some health care professionals prescribe corticosteroids and anti histamines to manage redness, itching and scaling of exfoliative dermatitis.

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