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Exfoliative dermatitis

Exfoliative dermatitis is widespread scaling, peeling, and flaking of the skin. It is often accompanied by, itching, skin redness (erythroderma), and hair loss.


This condition may occur in severe cases of many common skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis. It is sometimes caused by an allergy to drugs or another body-wide disease.


A person with severe symptoms often needs hospital care, at times in an intensive-care burn unit. This is needed in order to monitor fluid loss through the skin.

Alternative Names

Erythroderma; Dermatitis exfoliativa; Pruritus - exfoliative dermatitis



Bolognia JL, Schaffer JV, Duncan KO, Ko CJ. Erythroderma. In: Bolognia JL, Schaffer JV, Duncan KO, Ko CJ, eds. Dermatology Essentials. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2014:chap 8.

Habif TP. Exanthems and drug eruptions. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 14.

Review Date 1/31/2016

Updated by: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.