Eczema Herpeticum: Quick Guide + Treatment Tips 2022

 

As if atopic eczema alone wasn't enough, right? 

The itch, the dry skin, the scratching - it’s super frustrating, and let’s face it at times very difficult to cope with. 

And now yep, you got it, we want to throw herpes into the mix. Wonderful. 

But unfortunately if you’re suffering from eczema herpeticum, this might be exactly the reality you’re facing. 

So we’re here to say - we see you. And we want to do our best to try and help. 

In this article, you’ll find: 

1. What is eczema herpeticum?

2. Causes

3. Symptoms

4. Treatment tips

5. General advice for atopic eczema

6. Final thoughts 

So, what is eczema herpeticum? 

Eczema herpeticum (EH) is a rare, potentially serious viral infection that appears as a blistering rash caused by the Herpes simplex virus HSV1 - “oral herpes”. 

Commonly this is the virus that causes cold sores to appear around and on the inside of the mouth, transmitted through skin to skin contact. 

The condition is also referred to as Kaposi varicelliform eruption, a term originating from the first person who named it thinking the eruption looked like chickenpox. 

Eczema herpeticum commonly affects infants and young children who suffer from atopic dermatitis or other inflammatory skin diseases, although it is not unseen in adults. 

Causes

As mentioned, EH is caused by Herpes simplex virus HSV1. 

The condition appears when the herpes virus infects large areas of skin - as opposed to the usual small spots around the mouth. 

Symptoms of the condition usually begin within the first episode of infection with HSV1, with signs commonly appearing 5-12 days after contact with an infected person (who may or may not themselves be showing symptoms). 

People who suffer from atopic dermatitis are more susceptible to developing EH, as are individuals that suffer from seborrheic or contact dermatitis

It can also be triggered by trauma or cosmetic procedures (think skin peels or dermabrasion). 

Symptoms 

The main symptoms when it comes to EH include fluid-filled, red blisters on the face or neck, although it can also appear on other parts of the body such as the hands. Usually symptoms can take up to two weeks to show after contact with the herpes simplex virus. 

The blisters initially will contain a clear fluid that might then turn into pus as the condition develops (lovely we know). 

At this point, the blisters may weep or bleed then hopefully heal in 2 to 4 weeks. It’s rare for this to cause scarring. 

Main skin symptoms to look out for: 

- Groups of small blisters that are painful and itchy

- Blisters that appear red, black or purple

- Blisters that ooze pus when broken open 

As well as these physical conditions, it’s possible for those suffering to also experience: 

- Fever

- Chills

- Swollen lymph glands

- General feeling of being unwell 

Treatment tips

With eczema herpeticum there should be no delay in seeking medical treatment. This isn’t the time to wait around and see if your symptoms get better in a few days. 

See a doctor immediately and they will most likely prescribe you with an anti-viral drug. These should be taken for between 10-14 days until your symptoms have subsided. 

Although this will be enough to hopefully stop the break out, your symptoms may well reappear in a few weeks, albeit hopefully less severely. 

How to prevent it? 

If you suffer from atopic or contact dermatitis - stay away from people that have cold sores! Avoid kissing them and don’t share drinks, utensils or other personal items such as towels or napkins.

General advice for atopic eczema

Just in case you’re also looking for some more general advice - here are a few top tips if you’re currently suffering from a flare up

1. Soothe the itch! 

We KNOW - this is tough. And it can seem like an uphill battle especially when your skin is raging out of control. But luckily, our very own calming spray is exactly what you’ve been missing! 

Enriched with a blend of 3 traditional Chinese herbs used for 1000’s of years in Asian medicine, our plant-based formula has been especially designed to combat the symptoms of allergy-prone skin. 

Anti-inflammatory and deeply moisturising for those tricky dry patches, it’s also steroid, paraben and sulphate free :)

2. Avoid unconscious scratching 

This is a biggy, and can completely undermine all your other efforts regardless of what cream you put on your skin. 

Habitual, unconscious scratching is something that many eczema sufferers can develop. It’s 8pm, you’re watching TV, you’re bored - so you start scratching. Just like clockwork. But is your skin ACTUALLY itchy? And do you even realise you’re doing it?

Sometimes, maybe not. And you know how it goes, the moment you scratch, the more itchy you become. 

The first thing is becoming conscious of your actions. Observe how you behave and then try a technique known as ‘habit reversal’ to replace the scratching with something else. So around the time you usually start to scratch, grab a stress ball and squeeze that instead! 

3. Moisturise regularly

When you suffer from eczema it means you most probably have a damaged skin barrier. This means irritants can get into your skin more easily and cause a reaction. 

Moisturising helps create a layer over the skin and prevent the loss of water. Our recommendation? Slap the stuff on day and night. 

4. Avoid triggers

Maybe the most important one. How can you expect your skin to improve if you constantly expose it to your triggers

We know they can be difficult to identify, but things like a patch test or elimination diet are good places to start. 

The best advice is to remain patient and when you do find them - avoid for the rest of eternity! 

5. De-stress 

There have been numerous studies linking stress with inflammation and the impact anxiety can have onto your skin. 

It’s critical you prioritise your mental health and try your best to stay calm in everyday situations. Meditation, mindfulness and exercise can be great tools for this - head over to our social channels @yanyeeskincare to find out more. 

6. Get in your 8 hours! 

Never underestimate the power of a good night's sleep, it can be absolutely vital in helping your skin heal and recover from a flare up. 

We know - sometimes the itch can prevent this, but hopefully our calming spray will help soothe your skin before bedtime. 

Besides that, make sure you set the right conditions for sleep before 10pm comes rolling around. Limit your exposure to blue light, don’t eat too late and give yourself ample time to relax before you get horizontal. It can make all the difference. 

Final thoughts

So there we have it, eczema herpeticum sliced and diced. 

What have we missed? Jump over to our Twitter page and let us know! 

With care, 

The yan-yee team

Sources: 

- Herpes Simplex. (2020). Link

- Dermabrasion. (2020). Link

- Eczema herpeticum. (n.d.). Link

 

Suggested Product