Bullous "cellulitis" with eosinophilia: case report and review of Wells' syndrome in childhood

Pediatrics. 2005 Jul;116(1):e149-55. doi: 10.1542/peds.2004-2273.


A 1-year-old girl presented with acute onset of edematous erythematous plaques associated with bullae on her extremities and accompanied by peripheral eosinophilia. She was afebrile, and the skin lesions were pruritic but not tender. The patient was treated with intravenously administered antibiotics for presumed cellulitis, without improvement. However, the lesions responded rapidly to systemic steroid therapy. On the basis of lesional morphologic features, peripheral eosinophilia, and cutaneous histopathologic features, a diagnosis of Wells' syndrome was made. Wells' syndrome is extremely rare in childhood, with 27 pediatric cases reported in the literature. Because it is seen so infrequently, there are no specific guidelines for evaluation and management of Wells' syndrome among children. The diagnosis should be considered for children with presumed cellulitis and eosinophilia who fail to respond to antibiotics. Evaluation should include a directed history, physical examination, complete blood count, and stool testing for ova and parasites, to identify potential triggers. Treatment is with systemic steroid therapy unless disease is limited, in which case medium/high-potency topical steroids may be indicated. If systemic features are prominent or disease is chronic (lasting >6 months), then a referral to hematology/oncology should be considered.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Cellulitis / complications
  • Cellulitis / diagnosis*
  • Cellulitis / pathology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Eosinophilia / complications*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Skin Diseases, Vesiculobullous / complications
  • Skin Diseases, Vesiculobullous / diagnosis*
  • Syndrome