Background: Exfoliative dermatitis (ED) can result in protein loss due to scaling causing a negative nitrogen balance. Freedberg and Baden (J Invest Dermatol 1962; 38: 277-284) estimated the amount of scale lost in ED by collecting it in an occlusive suit. Subsequently, the nitrogen content was determined by the Kjeldahl method. The exact amount of protein supplementation in ED, dependent on scale loss, is not well established. As occlusion and hyperthermia caused by the suit can inhibit scaling, the objectives of the present study were to design an alternative method to measure the amount of scale lost, to estimate the protein content of the scale, and to propose suitable recommendations for protein supplementation. Methods: In 40 patients with ED, the total protein content lost through scaling per day (P) was determined by the following equation: P = TxIxYxX/25x104 g, where T is the total body surface area in square meters, I is the percentage area involved in scaling, estimated using computer-aided design (CAD graph), Y is the amount of scale lost per unit area (0.0025 m2) in milligrams, and X is the quantity of protein present in 1 g of scale in milligrams estimated by a spectrophotometer. Results: It was observed that patients with ED secondary to drug reactions, eczema, and psoriasis lost 7.2, 9.6, and 22.6 g of scale with a protein content of 4.2, 5.6, and 12.8 g respectively. The difference in the amount of protein lost in ED secondary to drug reactions and eczema was not statistically significant; however, the protein lost in psoriasis was significant (p < 0.01 to p < 0.05). Conclusions: ED may increase the daily protein loss by approximately 25-30% in psoriasis and 10-15% in other causes. Standard treatment for ED and protein supplementation based on our recommendations can minimize the adverse effects of a negative nitrogen balance.
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