Skin Eruptions in Acute Hemorrhagic Edema of Young Children: Systematic Review of the Literature

Dermatology. 2022;238(3):397-403. doi: 10.1159/000519009. Epub 2021 Sep 22.


Background: Acute hemorrhagic edema is a skin-limited small-vessel leukocytoclastic vasculitis, which affects infants 4 weeks to 2 years of age and remits within 3 weeks. The diagnosis is made clinically in not-ill appearing children with acute onset of raised annular or nummular eruptions and edema. In this vasculitis, type, distribution, and evolution of the rash have never been systemically investigated. To address this issue, we employed the data contained in the Acute Hemorrhagic Edema Bibliographic Database, which incorporates all reports on acute hemorrhagic edema.

Summary: Key features of rash were documented in 383 children. Annular eruptions in a strict sense, usually targetoid, were reported in 375 (98%) cases (many children also presented polycyclic or arciform eruptions). Nummular eruptions were also very common (n = 358; 93%). Purpuric eruptions and ecchymoses were reported in the vast majority of cases. Macules and wheals were described in a minority of cases. Edema, detected in all cases, was mostly painful, indurated and nonpitting. The following regions were affected, in decreasing order, by annular or nummular eruptions: legs, feet, face, arms, ears, trunk, and genitals. With the exception of feet, which were very often affected, the same distribution was reported for edema. The initial eruption was often a wheal or a macule that evolved into a nummular or an annular eruption. Nummular eruptions successively evolved into annular ones.

Key message: This study carefully characterizes type, distribution, and evolution of skin eruption in acute hemorrhagic edema. The data help physicians to rapidly and noninvasively make the clinical diagnosis of this vasculitis.

Keywords: Acute hemorrhagic edema; Cockade purpura with edema; Finkelstein-Seidlmayer disease; Skin eruption; Targetoid.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Edema / diagnosis
  • Edema / etiology
  • Exanthema* / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Vasculitis, Leukocytoclastic, Cutaneous* / complications
  • Vasculitis, Leukocytoclastic, Cutaneous* / diagnosis