Erythroderma: a clinical and prognostic study.


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Abstract

BACKGROUNDErythroderma is a rare skin disorder and studies on its causes and prognosis are rare in the literature.OBJECTIVEWe reviewed the clinical, laboratory and biopsy materials of 260 patients diagnosed with erythroderma who were treated in our department over an 11-year period. Patients were followed up to better understand the evolution of erythroderma.METHODSThis study was performed at our hospital between January 2001 and 2012 and included 260 patients with erythroderma. We recorded epidemio-clinical, biological and histological data, treatments and outcomes. Clinical-histological correlation was analyzed. Overall survival and relapse-free survival for a limited number of etiologies were described using Kaplan-Meier estimates.RESULTSThe mean age at onset in this study was 52.57 ± 17.94 (SD) years (range 13-87), with a male-to-female ratio of 3:1. Acute onset was present in 15.38% of patients. Clinical findings were dominated by pruritus (87.69%), fever (40%), edema (37.69%), chills (31.15%), nail changes (29.62%), weakness (19.23%), lymphadenopathy (19.23%), weight loss (14.62%) and islands of normal skin (13.46%). Skin biopsies revealed the cause in 55.56% (65/117) of the patients. The most common causative factors were pre-existing dermatoses (70.77%), followed by idiopathic causes (14.23%), drug reactions (12.69%) and malignancies (2.31%). Among the pre-existing dermatoses, psoriasis was the most common etiology (143/260, 55%). In the drug-induced group, carbamazepine was the most frequently implicated drug in our study (33.33%). Chinese traditional herbal medicines are among the causes of drug-induced erythroderma as well. We also found that Langerhans cell histiocytosis, tongue cancer, hypereosinophilic syndrome, bullous pemphigoid and dermatomyositis could be causes of erythroderma. From our follow-up study, 39 (31.2%) of the 125 patients from whom information was available had relapsed. The patients with idiopathic erythroderma had a higher relapse rate. Of the 5 patients who died, 4 deaths were directly related to erythroderma.CONCLUSIONSMost of the clinical features of erythroderma are unspecific with few cause-orienting clues. Although numerous laboratory values were abnormal, most findings were nondiagnostic and were related to the inflammatory process, except for skin biopsy. Our study had a high percentage of erythroderma secondary to pre-existing dermatoses and a low percentage of malignancy patients. Repeated evaluations, close follow-up and biopsy are recommended.

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