Definition. An acute, epidemic disease, characterized by erythema, induration, desquamation and pigmentation of the skin, and disorders of the nervous system.
Symptoms. Gastrointestinal irritation and a variety of sensory disturbances, pain, anesthesia, hyperesthesia, etc., are always present with an erythematous eruption, usually upon the face, hands and feet, which in time shows a thickening of the involved area and alter desquamation and pigmentation. The conjunctiva may be affected and various spasmodic and tetanic contractions have been reported.
Etiology and pathology. Acrodynia was first described about 1830, when it occurred epidemically in Paris, nearly 40,000 persons being affected. It is probably caused by the action upon the central nervous system of some toxic substance and bears some resemblance to ergotism and pellagra. It is, no doubt, contagious and has been classed among the exanthemata. Hence it should be carefully differentiated from the eruptive fevers.
Prognosis and Treatment. Most cases recover within a few weeks, although the severe type may last three or four months. Treatment is upon general principles, including counterirritation over the spine, rest in bed, liquid diet, warm alkaline baths and the indicated remedy.