Ferdinando Gianotti

Ferdinando Gianotti (1920 – 1984) was an Italian pediatric dermatologist.

Gianotti was a pioneer of paediatric dermatology and now considered one of the fathers of this discipline.

He published over 190 clinical and experimental studies. Areas of interest included cercarial dermatitis in rice weeders; important and original observations concerning histiocytoses, epidermolysis bullosa, and other bullous dermatoses of childhood.

Gianotti believed that the skin was a morphologic clinical model of numerous disorders that, if well investigated, may throw light on many clinical aspects and pathogenetic mechanisms of internal diseases.

Eponymously remembered for describing Gianotti-Crosti syndrome in 1955

  • Born on August 22, 1920 in Corsico, Italy
  • 1933 – After primary school he started to work in a tannery where, aged 13, he lost his left forearm in an accident.
  • 1947 – Graduated medical school, University of Milan
  • 1950 – Assistant to Prof Agostino Crosti (1896-1988) at the Department of dermatology, University of Milan
  • 1954 – Gianotti created the first Italian (and probably first European) department of pediatric dermatology at Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico in Milan
  • 1956 – Professor of dermosyphilography, University of Milan
  • 1966-1971 Professor of occupational and allergological dermatology, University of Milan
  • 1971 – Chairman of the Department of Pediatric Dermatology, University of Milan
  • 1981 – Director of the Institute of Dermatology and Pediatric Dermatology. Dermatologia Pediatrica, Università di Milano
  • Died on July 25, 1984

Medical Eponyms
Gianotti-Crosti syndrome (1955)

Acrodermatitis papulosa infantilis – a non-itching erythematous papular eruption on the face and limbs associated with enlarged lymph nodes and an enlarged liver. [aka Crosti-Gianotti syndrome; Gianotti disease; Gianotti syndrome]

In 1953 Gianotti examined a child with a monomorphous erythematous papular rash confined to the extensor surfaces of the arms and legs. The boy had generalized lymphadenopathy but was otherwise well. Gianotti was unable to classify the rash according to any established diagnosis. In the following months, he saw a number of patients with identical skin findings.

On one occasion, a child with classic cutaneous lesions, shared a room with 5 other children. As the rash of the index patient resolved, the other children developed fever, mild hepatomegaly, and widespread lymphadenopathy. Gianotti suspected that the acral skin lesions represented an unusual virus-associated exanthem.

He presented his findings to Agostino Crosti, the chairman of the department of dermatology. However Crosti was skeptical about the observations and conclusions, and responded “Gianotti, ti te’l ghe la mania del virus” [Gianotti, you have a mania about viral diseases]. Gianotti therefore published the first reports as a solo author in 1955.

This dermatosis is different from all other viral or bacterial illnesses in that fever and systemic findings are minimal, the skin findings are exclusively acral and remain present for 25 to 45 days, much longer than the usual infectious exanthem…I suspect a unique, unknown viral origin, through which certain patients develop a cutaneous eruption.

Gianotti 1955

Crosti became convinced when Gianotti identified 8 additional cases and the two published an article together titled “Dermatosi infantile eruttiva acroesposta di probabile origine virosica” [Acro located infantile eruptive dermatosis probably of viral origin] in 1956 and 1957. Crosti, as department head, was listed as first author and the condition was initially identified as Crosti-Gianotti syndrome

1979 – Gianotti stated that this eruption was exclusively associated with hepatitis B virus and proposed the term papulovesicular acro-located syndromes for similar eruptions not associated with hepatitis B virus

1992 – Caputo et al examined 308 case of patients hospitalized. Photographs were examined by a panel of experts to determine whether it was possible to distinguish between papular acrodermatitis of childhood and papulovesicular acrolocated syndromes solely on the basis of cutaneous signs. a They found a significant overlapping of the two types of the disease and that the blind survey of photographs of the patients revealed that a distinction between the forms was not clinically possible.

This prompted investigators to propose the term Gianotti-Crosti syndrome for all similar acrally
located eruption

Gianotti-Crosti syndrome is considered a distinctive but nonspecific, cutaneous, eruptive pattern with valid and reproducible diagnostic criteria. In addition to hepatitis B virus, the syndrome has been related to an increasing number of underlying viral and bacterial sources, most commonly Epstein-Barr virus and occasionally immunization (polio, diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus, and measles-mumps-rubella vaccines)

Major Publications



Eponymous term

BA MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM. Emergency physician, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.  Passion for rugby; medical history; medical education; and asynchronous learning #FOAMed evangelist. Co-founder and CTO of Life in the Fast lane | Eponyms | Books | Twitter |

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