Skin signs of nutritional disorders.
Children, especially infants, require adequate calories and nutrients to meet the high demands of normal growth and development; protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals are all important in achieving this goal. Malnutrition results from deficiency in one or more of these basic nutrients. It may be caused by (1) insufficient dietary intake, (2) malabsorption, (3) poor utilization of nutrients, and (4) increased catabolism. A range of clinical and metabolic changes occurs as a result of profound and generalized abnormalities at a cellular level. Mucocutaneous changes constitute one of the variable and multisystemic clinical manifestations of malnutrition. Although some signs are characteristic of a specific nutrient deficiency, an overlap of skin manifestations is observed in multiple deficiency states. The periorificial glazed erythema and hair loss of zinc deficiency also may be seen in patients with essential fatty acid deficiency, biotinidase deficiency, and even kwashiorkor. Mucous membrane changes associated with deficiency of many water-soluble vitamins may likewise be difficult to distinguish.
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