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Acrodynia Clinical Presentation

  • Author: Kamila K Padlewska, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
Updated: Apr 14, 2016


Children initially become listless, drowsy, and irritable, with a tendency to cry. Anorexia and subsequent weight loss can occur. More than 50% of patients demonstrate photophobia. Hypotonia, the ability to hyperextend or overextend the limbs, and atrophy of muscles are noted. The child may refuse to walk.



The initial symptoms are followed by the numerous cutaneous manifestations in 2-4 weeks. The skin changes are characteristic. The review by Dinehart et al from 1988 is notable.[6]  Early in the course of the disease, the tip of the nose, fingers, and toes acquire a pinkish color, which subsequently develops into a reticulate erythema of deeper hue.[7]

The hands and feet become painful, cold, cyanotic, erythematous, and swollen. Erythema is usually blotchy but may be diffuse. Hemorrhagic puncta are also noted. On the trunk, the erythema is blotchy and may be macular or papular. Extreme pain and pruritus in the extremity often leads to lichenified, excoriated changes as the child constantly rubs and scratches his or her skin. Patients may assume the "salaam position" in which they sit with their heads between their legs and rub their hands together.

Inflammation, swelling, and focal gum erosion can been seen with subsequent loss of teeth. These changes are early.

A notable symptom is massive hyperhidrosis with a mouselike smell, which may lead rapidly to miliaria rubra. This can easily turn to bacterial secondary infection with a tendency for ulcerating pyoderma.

Persistent hypertension, tachycardia, susceptibility to bronchitis, dyspepsia, precipitant micturition, salivation, and hypotonia can be observed. Usually, the patient develops a moderate upper respiratory tract infection with a sore throat.[8]

Alopecia has been noted. Nail loss has also been reported.



Mercury exposure in a sensitive person is considered to be responsible for the development of acrodynia. A genetic predisposition is possible.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Kamila K Padlewska, MD, PhD Professor, Warsaw Academy of Cosmetics and Health Care; Chief Executive, Cosmetic-Medical Cooperative Izis, Poland

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH Professor and Head of Dermatology, Professor of Pathology, Pediatrics, Medicine, and Preventive Medicine and Community Health, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School; Visiting Professor, Rutgers University School of Public Affairs and Administration

Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, New York Academy of Medicine, American Academy of Dermatology, American College of Physicians, Sigma Xi

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Richard P Vinson, MD Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Dermatology, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Paul L Foster School of Medicine; Consulting Staff, Mountain View Dermatology, PA

Richard P Vinson, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, Texas Medical Association, Association of Military Dermatologists, Texas Dermatological Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Jeffrey J Miller, MD Associate Professor of Dermatology, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine; Staff Dermatologist, Pennsylvania State Milton S Hershey Medical Center

Jeffrey J Miller, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Academy of Dermatology, Society for Investigative Dermatology, Association of Professors of Dermatology, North American Hair Research Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Dirk M Elston, MD Professor and Chairman, Department of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery, Medical University of South Carolina College of Medicine

Dirk M Elston, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Shyam Verma, MBBS, DVD, FAAD Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Dermatology, University of Virginia School of Medicine; Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Dermatology, State University of New York at Stonybrook School of Medicine; Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Shyam Verma, MBBS, DVD, FAAD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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