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December 1994

Erythroderma: A Clinicopathological Study of 56 Cases

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Dermatology, University General Hospital, Valencia, Spain.

Arch Dermatol. 1994;130(12):1503-1507. doi:10.1001/archderm.1994.01690120039004

Background and Design:  Erythroderma may be the result of many different causes. There are several publications on this subject, most of them from England, the United States, and the Scandinavian countries reporting a different incidence of each etiologic group. Our objective has been to determine the frequency of erythroderma in our environment, its cause, and patient evolution. We reviewed the clinical, laboratory, and biopsy material of 56 patients diagnosed with erythroderma who were treated in our department in the last 8 years (1984 through 1991). Patients were followed up to know the evolution of the erythroderma.

Results:  The male-female ratio was 4:1. The mean age at diagnosis was 57 years. Dermatoses were the most frequent cause of erythroderma (62.5%), followed by topical or systemic drug reactions (16%), and cutaneous T- cell lymphomas (12.5%). Follow-up information was obtained from 42 patients (66%). Eight patients died (19%), but only in three cases was death directly related to erythroderma (7.14%). The group associated with the best prognosis was that related to drugs. The best clinicohistologic correlation was found in cutaneous T-cell lymphoma—related erythroderma.

Conclusions:  Erythroderma of unknown cause and protracted course may be secondary to senile atopic dermatitis, intake of drugs overlooked by the patients, and patients who are in slow progression to cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. Close follow-up of erythrodermas of unknown cause by repeating cutaneous biopsies will in time allow an early diagnosis in patients in the latter group.(Arch Dermatol. 1994;130:1503-1507)

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