Also known as Kaposi varicelliform eruption, eczema herpeticumis a rare viral infection most commonly caused by the herpes simplex 1 virus. Usual eczema herpeticum symptoms include clusters of painful blisters (usually on the face and neck), fever, swollen lymph nodes, and fatigue. Although it can be cured with antiviral treatment, the complications of this condition can lead to long-term scarring, blindness, muscle failure, and even death.
How Does It Happen?
Eczema herpeticum usually arises from pre-existing skin diseases, such as atopic dermatitis or eczema. Although herpes rarely leads to more serious health conditions for people with a healthy immune system, if a person with eczema catches HSV1 or HSV2, they could develop eczema herpeticum.
Studies show that eczema herpeticum is the most common viral infection in patients with atopic dermatitis, which affects about 17% of children in the US, as well as approximately 11% to 28% children in other developed countries.
How Can You Prevent It?
Eczema herpeticum symptoms can often resemble the symptoms of other skin conditions, so early detection and prevention can play a vital role in its treatment. Here are some things you can do to decrease the risk of developing this condition:
- Moisturize your skin. Dry skin can lead to cracks and scratches, which leave your skin susceptible to infections.
- Protect infected skin. Avoid touching the areas of your skin affected by eczema and wash your hands regularly.
- Avoid cold sores. Do not kiss people with active cold sores or share food, drinks, or utensils with them. Ask your partner to get tested for STDs (including herpes), and always use protection.
If you have eczema, you are already at a higher risk of developing eczema herpeticum. If you notice any eczema herpeticum symptoms, contact your doctor. He or she will be able to determine whether it’s just a severe flare of eczema or a more serious infection.