Exfoliative dermatitis is peeling of the skin over large areas of the body while the term “exfoliative” means the exfoliation, or shedding, of the skin. Sometimes “Dermatitis” means irritation of the skin. The skin peeling may be related with pre-existing medical conditions found in some people, while in some the cause is unknown. Exfoliative dermatitis, also called erythroderma, is serious but rather uncommon. Problems can include infection, loss of nutrients, and dehydration. Exfoliative dermatitis, sometimes called erythroderma, is serious but fairly uncommon.
Complications can include infection, loss of nutrients, dehydration, and heart failure, rarely leading to death. The root cause of exfoliative dermatitis is a disorder of the skin cells. The cells die and shed too quickly in a process called turning over. The rapid turnover of skin cells causes significant peeling and scaling of the skin. The peeling and scaling may also be known as sloughing. Certain types of cancer, including leukemia and lymphoma, may also accelerate the skin cell turnover rate. According to Merck Manuals, up to 25 percent of cases of exfoliative dermatitis are idiopathic. Idiopathic is when a disease or condition has no known cause.