What is eczema herpectium? April 13, 2016 00:00

Eczema Herpeticum is an uncommon but serious viral infection of the skin. Caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV1 or 2).  It’s normally found with people who already suffer from eczema or other inflammatory skin conditions. This is the same virus that causes cold sores and genital herpes. Eczema sufferers who have skin-to-skin contact with a person carrying this type of virus can potentially develop this condition.  

The symptoms  

Eczema herpeticum begins as a rash with large clusters of small blisters. This can occur in normal skin or skin already affected by eczema. The virus can affect any part of the body but is most commonly found on the face and neck. These blisters will have a similar appearance to chickenpox with clear fluid eventually turning into yellow pus. Fever and flu-like symptoms may then occur along with swollen lymph nodes.  

Newly infected patches can appear over a period of 7 to 10 days. If left untreated the infection can become more serious so if unexpected blisters appear or your eczema symptoms have suddenly become worse you should consult your doctor straightaway. 

Remember: Eczema herpecticum is a rare condition and normal eczema or atopic dermatitis does not carry the same extreme risks to a person's health. If you have any concerns that you may have this condition contact your doctor immediately.

Avoiding the condition 

Cold Sores: Eczema suffers should gracefully avoid skin-to skin contact with people with cold sores. These sores usually appear around the mouth area. Cold sores are most contagious when blisters are present but can lie dormant in the body when unseen.  

Don’t share any food, utensils, drinks, lip balms – basically anything that’s been in contact with a cold sore sufferer’s mouth.  Also keep up the good hand washing practices.  

Herpes: With genital herpes acting as a carrier for this virus it is important to take precautions with any sexual intimacy. Having an open and honest discussion with your partner about the possibility of this condition is the first important step. Abstaining is of course the best preventative but if not possible – protection should be used to avoid transference of the virus. Remember this virus is transferred skin-to-skin so effective prevention is essential to prevent uncomfortable situation happening later on. 


If you’re an eczema sufferer with open rashes and have come into contact with a person who has a herpes cold sore seek medical attention. In the unlikely event eczema herpeticum being diagnosed or suspected your doctor will usually prescribe a course of anti-viral drugs to get the infection under control.   

*Please remember to always seek medical advice. This article is written generically about eczema and should not supersede any advice received by a medical professional about an individual condition. If you think you have eczema, atopic dermatitis or any other condition get the advice of your Family Doctor especially before beginning or changing any course of medication.