Acute generalized exanthematous pustulosis (AGEP)
Acute generalized exanthematous pustulosis (AGEP) is a fairly rare condition, with a reported incidence of one to five cases per million people per year. AGEP affects both sexes, but with a slight female predominance. Although the median age of occurrence is 56 years, people of all ages can develop AGEP. In approximately 90% of cases, AGEP is caused by a drug reaction, with the most common culprits being antibiotics, diltiazem, and antimalarials.
Fever, leukocytosis with an elevated neutrophil count ( greater than 7,000/microL), and mild eosinophilia are commonly observed during the acute phase of AGEP. Systemic involvement is fairly uncommon, with a study of 58 cases exhibiting organ involvement in 17% of patients. When systemic involvement was observed, hepatic, pulmonary, and renal dysfunction were most common. Hepatic dysfunction can result in elevated transaminase levels in some patients. Similarly, reduced creatinine clearance may be observed because of renal involvement.
The management of AGEP involves removal of the offending agent. Antiseptic solutions and moist dressings may be used during the pustular phase to prevent infection. Emollients can aid in restoring skin barrier function during the desquamation phase. Antibiotics are not necessary prophylactically and should be avoided unless infection occurs. Pruritus and inflammation may be treated with topical corticosteroids in prolonged cases. Systemic corticosteroids are generally unwarranted as AGEP is a self-limited condition that is known to spontaneously resolve with the removal of the causative drug.
This case and photo were submitted by Natasha Cowan, BS, University of California, San Diego, and Brooke Resh Sateesh MD, San Diego Family Dermatology.