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Skin-nontumor / Clinical Dermatology

Blistering disorders

Erythema toxicum neonatorum

Reviewer: Mowafak Hamodat MB.CH.B, MSc., FRCPC, Eastern Health, St. Johns (Canada) (see Reviewers page)
Revised: 8 July 2011, last major update July 2011
Copyright: (c) 2002-2011, PathologyOutlines.com, Inc.


● Skin condition in 50% of newborns, with red patches on forehead, face, chest, trunk and extremities that have raised clear bumps in the center; usually resolves within a few days without treatment

Clinical features

● Pathogenesis unknown; may be an acute graft versus host reaction, resulting from the transfer of maternal lymphocytes during delivery

Clinical description

● Erythematous pustular eruption
● Can be diagnosed clinically based on classic appearance (Am Fam Physician 2008;77:47)

Clinical images

Red patches with raised clear central bumps

Microscopic description

● Intraepidermal pustule (subcorneal) filled with eosinophils and occasional neutrophils
● Early erythematous lesion shows perivascular inflammatory cell infiltrate with conspicuous eosinophils

Differential diagnosis

Incontinentia pigmenti: prominent eosinophilic spongiosis, not seen in erythema toxicum neonatorum
Miliaria rubra (heat rash): vesicles are related to sweat ducts, not hair follicles, and typically contain mononuclear cells, not eosinophils

End of Skin-nontumor / Clinical Dermatology > Blistering disorders > Erythema toxicum neonatorum

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