Infantile acrodynia (also known as "calomel disease", "erythredemic polyneuropathy", and "pink disease") is a type of mercury poisoning in children characterized by pain and pink discoloration of the hands and feet. The word is derived from the Greek, where άκρο means end (as in: upper extremity) and οδυνη means pain. Also known as pink disease, Swift disease, Feer disease, Selter disease, erythroderma, erythroderma polyneuritis, dermatopolyneuritis, trophodermatoneurosis, erythema arthricum epidemicum, vegetative neurosis, and vegetative encephalitis. These terms describe different aspects of the syndrome. Acrodynia was relatively commonplace among children in the first half of the 20th century. At first, the cause of the acrodynia epidemic among infants and young children was unknown; however, mercury poisoning, primarily from calomel in teething powders, began to be widely accepted as its cause in the 1950s and 60s. The prevalence of acrodynia decreased greatly after calomel was excluded from most teething powders in 1954.
Acrodynia is difficult to diagnose, "it is most often postulated that the etiology of this syndrome is an idiosyncratic hypersensitivity reaction to mercury because of the lack of correlation with mercury levels, many of the symptoms resemble recognized mercury poisoning."
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61.)^ The name erythema arthricum epidemicum more commonly describes Haverhill fever (rat-bite fever).
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