Eczema herpeticum is a form of the skin condition eczema, which is inflammation that causes red, scaly patches that itch and blister and finally scab over.
This condition is called atopic meaning that it’s allergy related, since the condition seems to flare up when people are exposed to certain triggers such as harsh laundry detergents or wool clothes.
When a person gets cold sores or genital herpes while dealing with their eczema, they develop the herpeticum type of the condition which can be very serious; in rare cases it can even be deadly.
What causes eczema herpeticum?
When a person’s skin that is affected by eczema comes into contact with the virus that causes cold sores or genital herpes, they are likely to contract eczema herpeticum.
The skin that is affected by an eczema flare-up is typically open and more likely to be receptive to the virus, where it can then spread.
The most common symptom of any herpes virus is a cold sore on the lip; this same type of blistery sore can develop on the area affected by eczema and it may become irritated and painful.
The blisters are typically initially filled with a white fluid that then turns to yellow pus. The flare-up becomes painful and the blisters eventually bleed and then form a crust.
Along with the blisters a person may experience flu-like symptoms including fatigue and fever.
How is eczema herpeticum treated?
Eczema herpeticum brings with it the risk of serious complications, so it is considered a medical emergency. If left untreated, the virus could spread to vital organs and in rare cases it could lead to organ failure and death.
Because the condition occurs when the skin that is affected by your eczema comes into contact with the herpes virus, you should do everything you can to keep your eczema under control. Cool baths followed by rubbing the affected area with petroleum jelly can allow the skin to heal, or you might add oatmeal to your bath as this has a cooling effect on skin. Always moisturize your skin while it’s still damp from a shower or bath to keep it better hydrated.
Prevention is also key; don’t come into contact with someone else’s cold sore or have unprotected sex with someone that has genital herpes if you are experiencing eczema flare-ups.
If you notice that any patch of your eczema suddenly appears with blisters of any type you should contact emergency services immediately.
Anti-viral drugs are typically administered to get the virus under control. In extreme cases this drugs may be given intravenously so that they reach the bloodstream right away.
Remember to protect yourself when you have eczema from anything that may cause flare-ups and especially from anything that may cause eczema herpeticum.
It may be difficult to tell someone with a cold sore that you don’t want to get close or to insist on protecting yourself during sex, but this is for your own health and safety in order to avoid this very serious condition.