Cold Sores & Eczema | The Hidden Danger

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If you suffer from eczema, you know that there’s a long list of things or environments that can make it worse. One particular trigger that can make eczema even worse, or even deadly, is the cold sore virus.

Eczema Herpeticum

If a person with a rash of flared up eczema comes into direct contact with a cold sore, it can lead to a potentially very serious condition known as Eczema Herpeticum.

Eczema Herpectium occurs when damaged skin comes is infected with the HSV-1 virus. This only happens through skin-to-skin contact. It can also happen through direct contact with HSV-2. Contact with a cold sore on a distressed part of the skin can lead to a blistery rash that can spread quickly. If not immediately treated, the infection can spread to internal organs and sometimes become deadly. Because of the seriousness of this condition, Eczema Herpectium is considered a dermatologic emergency.

First Signs of Infection

The first symptoms of infection occur within 5-12 days after contact. Look out for these tell-tail signs:

  • Clusters of blisters will begin to appear on eczema affected skin. These blisters will resemble the life of a cold sore, first appearing as clear blisters, but eventually turning to yellow pus. If left untreated. the rash will spread quickly to large parts of the body and become very painful. After a few days, the blisters will break open, bleed and form a scab.
  • Symptoms of fever are not uncommon, starting from the when the blisters start appearing.

It can be confusing when these symptoms begin appearing, as it can be difficult to remember coming into direct contact with a cold sore.  If, however, these symptoms do begin appearing, call your doctor immediately (especially for cold sores during pregnancy). There’s several anti-viral drugs available for treating such an infection, and if symptoms are serious enough, a hospital stay may be needed.

Sometimes, once infected once, a recurring infection can take place without direct contact, although symptoms are generally milder.

Avoiding Infection

The best way to avoid Eczema Herpectium is to avoid cold sores in general. The first step is to recognize what a cold sore is, and what it looks like (see cold sore or acne). It will appear as a red bump on the lips, which then becomes oozing and eventually makes a scab. While cold sores can appear anywhere, they typically appear around the lips and mouth.

For Eczema Herpectium, bumps will begin to appear on the arms and legs first before spreading to other parts of the body. If you encounter a person with a cold sore, try to avoid sharing drinks, food, lip chap, lip stick or anything that may come into contact with their mouth. Prevention is the best cure when it comes to Eczema Herpectium.