This is a series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Jenny who is sharing about her eczema herpeticum experience. Jenny blogs about her own personal experiences with eczema at i-have-eczema. She also has a lovely blog at Little Jenny Wren on her crafts, cakes and fashion.
Marcie Mom: Hi Jenny, thanks for sharing about your eczema herpeticum experience. Let’s start with you sharing a little of eczema history.
Jenny: Hi Mei! Thanks for having me! Eczema only became a problem for me in my mid-teen years when I became a lot more exposed to environmental allergens. Since this time it has become very widespread affecting every part of my body except my nose, fingers and feet. As a child I suffered more so from asthma and hay fever but as an adult I suffer with severe eczema.
Marcie Mom: When did your eczema herpeticum occur and what happened before and during treatment? (an archived post on Eczema Herpeticum – What is it and is it dangerous?)
Jenny: Since April 2012 I’ve contracted Eczema Herpeticum 7 times. Eczema Herpeticum is when the herpes simplex virus presents itself in an eczema sufferer, but instead of getting a cold sore or two, the virus spreads rapidly through areas that are affected by eczema. This can be an extremely dangerous condition, especially if not treated swiftly, as it can go on to affect organs and even cause septicemia and other life-threatening conditions.
My most recent outbreak is the worst I’ve ever experienced. It started in my eyes as a mild itch that I put down to being possible conjunctivitis. However over the course of the day the typical warning signs of eczema herpeticum became apparent as the cold sore-like vesicles presented themselves. It became so bad that I couldn’t even open my eyes. I also went on to develop a secondary infection of Periorbital Cellulitis so required emergency medical help. I then went on to spend 6 days in hospital being treated through an IV drip. It was pretty frightening as when I’ve suffered with eczema herpeticum in the past a dosage of Aciclovir tablets have been able to sort me out… but not this time.
Marcie Mom: Is there any medication and follow-up consultation required?
Jenny: In my case because I’ve contracted this virus so often, I am on a near-permanent course of Aciclovir tablets in order to keep it at bay. Most people would only require enough medication to treat the initial outbreak as it is uncommon for it to prevail as it has for me. I also see a dermatologist at the very least of once a month to ensure my skin is in good control.
Marcie Mom: One final question – what would be your biggest take-away from this experience?
Jenny: In all honesty I’m not sure how to answer this question. I’m now at a stage where I’m terrified that it will happen again to the extremity that I ended up hospitalised. It has only been a week since I was discharged after all. I guess in order to overcome it I need to get my immune system into a workable order as it is when you are run down and stressed that the herpes simplex virus breaks out. As an aside note, I have been taking immunosuppressants to control my severe eczema for a few years now and so these will not be helping to treat my immune system. If possible I would suggest to take eczema through the natural route to try to stop your immune system from getting into this state as mine has.
I’ll also add that I was never affected with the herpes simplex virus until I met my current partner who periodically suffers from cold sores. I never in my wildest dreams expected it to manifest in me as it has. Cold sores are such a common contagious infection that can be spread through something simple such as sharing towels and touching things that the infected person has touched. They’re pretty hard to escape from so always practise good hand hygiene where possible.
Marcie Mom: Thank you so much for sharing your eczema herpeticum journey, quite a few children had it too and parents reading this would have gained some insight.