Fast Five Quiz: Severe Atopic Dermatitis in Adults

William D. James, MD


September 09, 2020

Data from a large national database found an increased prevalence of serious infections, including cutaneous, respiratory, multiorgan, and systemic infections, among hospitalized adults with atopic dermatitis vs those who did not have the disease.

Exfoliative erythroderma is a rare complication of atopic dermatitis and occurs in <1% of patients with the disease. It is characterized by discernible disease progression caused by widespread S aureus or herpes simplex superinfection. This rare complication can be life-threatening if it is complicated by high-output cardiac failure and heat loss.

Methicillin-resistant S aureus is no more common and may even be less common among adults with severe atopic dermatitis than the general population.

Patients with atopic dermatitis are distinctively susceptible to herpes simplex, which may progress to a Kaposi varicelliform eruption; clinicians and patients should be especially vigilant for this condition. This rare complication is characterized by generalized involvement, systemic toxicity, and even death. Prompt administration of oral acyclovir and close monitoring are essential in these cases.

Learn more about complications and comorbidities associated with atopic dermatitis.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.