woman scratching at irritated, red skin on arm

What is Recurrent Eczema Herpeticum?

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a common skin condition characterized by patches of dry, itchy, and irritated skin. This condition can become complicated when secondary infections, such as herpes simplex virus (HSV) infections, occur. One such severe complication is eczema herpeticum, a viral infection that can cause significant discomfort and health risks.

In this blog, we will explore all you need to know about recurrent eczema herpeticum, including:

  • What is eczema herpeticum?

  • Risk factors and predisposing conditions

  • Natural ways to soothe symptoms

Read on to find out more about the complexities of recurrent eczema herpeticum, natural treatment options, and the importance of managing underlying atopic dermatitis to prevent severe flare-ups.

What is Eczema Herpeticum?

Eczema herpeticum, also known as Kaposi varicelliform eruption, occurs when the herpes simplex virus infects the skin of patients with pre-existing atopic dermatitis (AD) or other inflammatory skin diseases. It manifests as itchy and painful blisters, which can lead to disseminated viral infection if not treated promptly. This condition often requires active AD lesions to develop and can affect patients of all ages, though it is unexpectedly rare despite the prevalence of atopic eczema.

Who gets Eczema Herpeticum?

People with atopic dermatitis (AD), especially those with severe cases, are more likely to get eczema herpeticum. Early-onset and extrinsic AD are also risk factors. Additionally, if someone with AD gets a secondary bacterial infection like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), it can make eczema herpeticum worse. Other things that raise the risk include previous herpes infections, using steroid creams on the skin, and having had the smallpox vaccine.

Clinical Manifestations and Diagnosis

When someone has eczema herpeticum, they get painful blisters filled with clear fluid that tend to cluster together. These blisters usually show up on parts of the skin where there are already patches of eczema. Sometimes, people with eczema herpeticum also feel sick all over, with symptoms like fever and feeling generally unwell. So, how is eczema herpeticum diagnosed? Doctors can usually tell it's eczema herpeticum by looking at these symptoms, and they confirm it with tests that check for the herpes simplex virus in the blisters, using methods like polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or viral cultures.

Clinical Features and Pathogenic Aspects

In eczema herpeticum, the way the disease develops is a result of how the herpes simplex virus interacts with the weakened immune system in people who have atopic dermatitis (AD). Certain cells in the immune system, called plasmacytoid dendritic cells, which normally help fight viruses, don't work properly in these patients. Biopsy samples often show large cells with multiple nuclei, which is a sign that the herpes simplex virus is causing the infection.

How to Treat Eczema Herpeticum?

Recognizing eczema herpeticum early and starting treatment promptly are crucial to avoid serious problems. The main treatment involves using antiviral medications like acyclovir or valacyclovir. If there's also a bacterial infection, antibiotics might be added. Your doctor may also provide supportive care to help with pain relief and prevent dehydration. In severe situations, hospitalization might be needed, especially for patients with a weakened immune system or when the infection has spread widely across the body. This ensures they receive intensive care and treatment.

Natural Ways to Heal Atopic Dermatitis and Prevent Eczema Herpeticum

Preventing atopic dermatitis (AD) from escalating into eczema herpeticum requires proactive care and gentle, effective products. We carry several natural options can help soothe AD and reduce the risk of complications like eczema herpeticum.

Organic Manuka Skin Soothing Cream

The Organic Manuka Skin Soothing Cream is a natural and gentle balm that's formulated with organic Manuka honey, which is known for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It helps to moisturize and calm irritated skin, providing relief from itching and discomfort associated with eczema herpeticum.

Emily Skin Soothers Soap for Eczema with Chinese Herbs

Specifically formulated for sensitive skin prone to eczema, this Emily Skin Soothers soap combines traditional Chinese herbs known for their soothing and healing properties. It gently cleanses without drying, making it ideal for preventing AD flare-ups. The herbal blend helps to reduce inflammation and promote skin health, supporting a strong skin barrier.

Satya Eczema Cream Glide Stick

This convenient Satya Eczema Cream Glide Stick is enriched with soothing ingredients like calendula and colloidal oatmeal to provide immediate relief for irritated and itchy skin. It's easy to apply directly to affected areas, delivering targeted hydration and protection against eczema flare-ups. We love how its gentle formula helps maintain the skin's moisture balance, reducing the risk of eczema herpeticum by keeping the skin calm and nourished.

Recurrence and Long-term Management

Recurrent eczema herpeticum is a significant concern for atopic dermatitis patients. Preventative strategies include optimizing the management of underlying AD to reduce flare-ups and minimize skin barrier disruption. Regular follow-ups and patient education on early signs of herpes simplex virus infections are essential. Immunomodulatory therapies may also be considered for patients with frequent recurrences.

Soothe your Skin Today

Understanding the complexities of recurrent eczema herpeticum is crucial for effectively managing this challenging condition. By recognizing the symptoms early, understanding the risks associated with atopic dermatitis (AD), and staying informed about treatment options, you can take proactive steps to protect your skin and overall health.