Eczema herpeticum is a rare, painful skin rash usually caused by the herpes simplex virus HSV. HSV-1 is the virus that causes cold sores, and it can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. The condition was initially called Kaposi varicelliform eruption, after the person who first described it and thought the eruption looked like chickenpox. EH most commonly affects infants and young children who have eczema or other inflammatory skin conditions. But it can also affect adults. EH is treated with antiviral drugs, and it can become severe and life-threatening if not treated quickly.
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Eczema herpeticum is a rare, painful skin rash usually caused by the herpes simplex virus HSV. HSV-1 is the virus that causes cold sores, and it can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. The condition was initially called Kaposi varicelliform eruption, after the person who first described it and thought the eruption looked like chickenpox. EH most commonly affects infants and young children who have eczema or other inflammatory skin conditions.
But it can also affect adults. EH is treated with antiviral drugs, and it can become severe and life-threatening if not treated quickly. The viral infection is contagious. If you have EH, be careful not to spread it to other people who have eczema or compromised immune systems.
Although EH is uncommon, its occurrence has reportedly been increasing in recent years. Keep reading to learn how to identify it, what causes it, and more. EH typically starts suddenly with clusters of small, fluid-filled blisters that are painful and itchy.
The blisters all look alike and can be red, purplish, or black. The rash can spread to new sites 7 to 10 days after the first outbreak. The blisters ooze pus when they break open, and then the lesions crust over. The EH rash heals in two to six weeks. It can leave scars. EH is most often caused by HSV It can also be caused by the genital herpes virus HVS-2, or some other viruses.
EH usually erupts 5 to 12 days after contact with a person who has HSV. Children with eczema are the most common group to have EH. But only a small percentage of children and others with eczema develop EH. People with severe or untreated eczema are more likely to be affected. Eczema damages the outer layer of your skin, leaving it dry, sensitive, and more vulnerable to infection.
Other suggested risk factors are the lack of antiviral proteins and a lack of cells that promote antivirus immune responses. A study found that people with EH had significantly earlier onset of eczema and significantly higher levels of the antibodies produced by their immune system to combat allergies. Your doctor can likely diagnose EH by its appearance, but they may want to confirm the diagnosis. This is because EH can resemble some bacterial infections, like impetigo.
It also can look like a severe flare-up of eczema or other skin issues. Your doctor will probably have you take systemic antiviral drugs immediately if they think you have EH. An EH diagnosis can be confirmed by taking a smear of a blister to check for the virus.
Several tests are available to identify the virus, including culturing the sample, identifying antibodies to the virus, or examining it under a light microscope. If left untreated — or not treated soon enough — EH can lead to blindness though this is rare and other complications. If the lesions are near your eyes, your doctor should refer you to a specialist for evaluation.
HSV can infect your eyes, damaging the cornea. A study recommends that doctors routinely check eczema outpatients for signs of EH, because of its potential seriousness.
Your doctor will prescribe an antiviral drug, such as acyclovir Zovirax or valacyclovir Valtrex , to be taken for 10 to 14 days until the EH lesions heal. Antiviral drugs will stop the EH outbreak, but the symptoms can come back again.
Its return is usually milder after the first attack. Getting treatment as soon as possible for EH can reduce your risk of complications. Antiviral drugs typically clear up your EH in 10 to 14 days.
If you have eczema, you can prevent EH by avoiding contact with someone who has a cold sore. You should also avoid using anything that has touched the mouth of someone with a cold sore, such as a glass, fork, or lipstick. Many people with eczema are turning to tea tree oil to help relieve itchiness and inflammation. When used correctly, diluted tea tree oil can be a….
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How is EH treated? What is the outlook with EH? Can you prevent EH? Recurrent Herpes Simplex Labialis. Serum Herpes Simplex Antibodies Test. Read this next. Medically reviewed by Jill Seladi-Schulman, Ph. Can Turmeric Help Fight Eczema? Medically reviewed by Natalie Butler, R. How an Obsession with Hand Washing Made My Eczema Worse It took me years of trial and error, shame, and frustration to feel sympathy for myself for having eczema.
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What Is Eczema Herpeticum and How Is It Treated?
Eczema herpeticum appears more commonly on children with atopic dermatitis. Image courtesy of DermNet New Zealand. These cold sores can appear on other places on the body, also. Eczema herpeticum affects people with atopic dermatitis and other inflammatory skin diseases. The eczema herpeticum infection can be very serious, especially when it spreads over wide areas of skin. An eczema herpeticum happens when the herpes virus infects large areas of the skin. People with atopic dermatitis are more susceptible to skin infection in general, including eczema herpeticum.
What's to know about eczema herpeticum?
DermNet provides Google Translate, a free machine translation service. Note that this may not provide an exact translation in all languages. Eczema herpeticum is a disseminated viral infection characterised by fever and clusters of itchy blisters or punched-out erosions. Most cases of eczema herpeticum are due to Herpes simplex type 1 or 2.
Eczema herpeticum is a rare and serious skin infection caused by one of the herpes viruses. It causes a blistery, painful skin rash. It most often affects children who have eczema. It is often confused with other skin infections. It should be treated as soon as possible to avoid complications. It can become very serious if not treated quickly enough.
Dermatitis herpetiformis DH is a chronic autoimmune blistering skin condition,  characterised by blisters filled with a watery fluid  that is intensely itchy. DH is a cutaneous manifestation of Coeliac disease. Dermatitis herpetiformis was first described by Louis Adolphus Duhring in The age of onset is usually about 15—40, but DH also may affect children and the elderly. Men are slightly more affected than women.