February 1983

Epidemic Herpes Simplex Virus Infection

Author Affiliations

University of Louisville Louisville

Am J Dis Child. 1983;137(2):182-184. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1983.02140280074022

Eczema herpeticum, a form of Kaposi's varicelliform eruption (KVE), is a known complication of atopic dermatitis.1,2 It is usually a primary herpes simplex infection of the skin. Because of aberrant immunologic mechanisms and chronic skin changes, this infection may become disseminated and involve a large portion of skin and can be fatal.3

In many normal adults, herpes labialis is a recurrent problem that is rarely serious. When a patient with recurrent herpes simplex has a child with atopic dermatitis, appropriate isolation measures during an attack are necessary to prevent the development of disseminated cutaneous herpes infection. Although viral shedding can occur during asymptomatic intervals, isolation is of more importance during an attack because of greater numbers of virions.4I describe a family in which a father's mild herpes labialis resulted in a minor epidemic, including a life-threatening episode of eczema herpeticum in an infant with atopic dermatitis.