A genetic disease called acrodermatitis enteropathica in which there is impaired zinc uptake from the intestine is, in fact, characterized by the simultaneous presence of dermatitis (skin inflammation) and diarrhea. The skin on the cheeks, elbows and knees and the tissues about the mouth and anus are inflamed. There is balding of the scalp, eyebrows and eyelashes. Wound healing is delayed. And there are recurrent bacterial and fungal infections due to immune deficiency. The key laboratory finding in acrodermatitis enteropathica is an abnormally low blood zinc level reflecting the impaired zinc uptake. Treatment with zinc is curative.
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