Everything You Need To Know About Acrodermatitis

The Gianotti-Crosti syndrome (known by the full name of “papular acrodermatitis of childhood”) is a common skin condition that typically affects children between the ages of 3 months and 15 years. Although the condition itself isn’t contagious, the viruses that cause acrodermatitis are highly contagious. This is why children who interact with each other often contract the virus and develop the skin condition at the same time.

Acrodermatitis occurs more commonly during the spring and summer seasons and can last for about 4 to 8 weeks. It can also occur in siblings of children who were previously infected. Acrodermatitis rarely leads to any serious health complications and usually resolves by itself without needing any treatment.1 2


Symptoms Of Acrodermatitis

Primary symptoms include red spots on the face

Once the infection sets in, you’ll be able to see red spots developing on your child’s skin over the course of 3 to 4 days. These spots may develop anywhere on your child’s body, but they’re mostly seen on the arms, thighs, and buttocks. In all probability, the spots can gradually move upward toward the face too.


As this skin condition progresses, the red spots may change to the color purple, as your child’s capillaries and small blood vessels start to leak blood into the affected areas. Eventually, these spots will develop into fluid-filled itchy blisters. When infected with acrodermatitis, your child may even experience swelling and tenderness in the abdomen and lymph nodes. These symptoms usually last anywhere between 2 and 3 months.3

Another way to recognize acrodermatitis is the development of a copper-colored skin patch. This patch of skin will most likely be flat and feel firm when you touch it. If the underlying cause of acrodermatitis is hepatitis B, you may be able to notice a yellow tint on your child’s skin and eyes. This is a symptom of jaundice. Your child may start suffering from jaundice within 20 days after the onset of acrodermatitis symptoms.


Causes Of Acrodermatitis

Caused by a viral infection

The overall incidence of the Gianotti-Crosti syndrome is relatively unknown. However, it is widely considered to be a mild condition. A number of acrodermatitis epidemics have been reported to have occurred in many places over the years. These epidemics were believed to be caused by viral infections.4


In the United States, the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is the most common kind of virus that’s associated with childhood acrodermatitis. As a member of the herpes virus family and known to be one of the most common viruses to affect people around the world, EBV spreads through your bodily fluids, especially saliva.5

Although EBV is one of the primary causes of acrodermatitis in children, there are several other types of infections that can also lead to the development of this skin condition. Some of these infections are as follows.

  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • Hepatitis A, B, and C
  • Rotavirus, a common virus that causes diarrhea in infants
  • Cytomegalovirus, a common virus that usually doesn’t cause symptoms
  • Enterovirus, a common virus that can cause cold-like symptoms and a severe respiratory infection
  • Rubella, a viral infection that causes a rash
  • Coxsackievirus, a mild viral infection that causes mouth sores and rashes in young children
  • Parainfluenza viruses, a group of viruses that cause respiratory illnesses in infants and young children
  • Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a common virus that causes mild, cold-like symptoms in older children and adults but can be harmful to infants and young children

In rare cases, vaccines for certain viral diseases may also cause acrodermatitis. The following vaccines could be the cause.

  • Poliovirus
  • Hepatitis A
  • Diphtheria
  • Smallpox
  • Chickenpox
  • Pertussis
  • Influenza

Diagnosis Of Acrodermatitis

Diagnosed with a blood test or a skin biopsy


While a qualified medical professional may be able to diagnose acrodermatitis by simply looking at your child’s skin and inquiring about the symptoms, they may also run a few tests to confirm the diagnosis. A blood test can be done to check for bilirubin levels, abnormal liver enzymes, the presence of EBV antibodies, and to determine zinc levels that rule out genetic acrodermatitis. A simple skin biopsy will also give an accurate diagnosis.6

Treatment Options For Acrodermatitis

Treated with a simple skin cream


Truth is acrodermatitis itself doesn’t need any treatment. It usually goes away on its own without leading to any complications. But, your doctor can seek out the underlying cause and focus any treatment on eradicating that particular condition. The symptoms of this skin condition usually subside in about 4 to 8 weeks after they start. However, the condition may last as long as 4 months.7 8

During this time, you can try hydrocortisone creams for relief from itching. Antihistamines are also a perfectly viable option if your child has an allergy. If the main cause of acrodermatitis in your child is hepatitis B, it can take as long as 6 months or even a year for the affected person’s liver to recover. However, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll get acrodermatitis again.

So there you have it, acrodermatitis is not a very dangerous condition but should not be taken lightly, as it can lead to other complications.