Warning to millions with eczema over greater risk of major viral disease


MILLIONS of people with eczema have been warned they are at risk of a virus causing global concern.

Around one in 10 adults in the UK have eczema, and one in five children, according to charities.

A further 31.6 million people in the US have eczema too, it’s estimated.

Health chiefs in the US have warned people with the condition that they are more at risk of becoming seriously unwell with monkeypox, as well as children under eight years old.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said: “Anyone with immunocompromising conditions or certain skin conditions, such as eczema, is at risk of severe monkeypox disease.”

It particularly warned of young children with eczema, as well as teens and kids with severe acne or psoriasis. 

People with skin conditions tend to have a weakened skin barrier, said Dr Peter Lio, a board-certified dermatologist and clinical assistant professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

This can make it easier for bacteria or viruses to enter.

Dr Lio told The Healthy: “Monkeypox infections in people with eczema may behave similarly to eczema herpeticum or eczema vaccinatum, both of which pose serious health risks and require immediate treatment and possibly hospitalisation,”

However, there is no need to panic, he said.

“It’s important to remember that monkeypox is generally mild and self-limited. 

“But if you’re part of a higher-risk group and have a history of eczema or atopic dermatitis, and/or people with eczema in your household, then it’s important to take precautions to prevent the spread of monkeypox.” 

His advice was to take extra precaution if you are around someone with monkeypox, including avoiding touching any objects they have.

People with eczema should also be aware of how their rash differs from the monkeypox one, Dr Lio said, so that they are aware if they become infected.

Monkeypox creates blisters with a “central crust”. The blisters are white and raised, they become ulcerated and blister.

Eczema causes a dry, itchy red rash. With scratching, wounds that bleed may appear and then scab over.

Vaccine check

People with eczema or who have previously had it are among those who should not get the monkeypox vaccine, as well as those with HIV or are pregnant.

The smallpox vaccine contains live vaccinia virus, not a killed or weakened virus like many other vaccines. 

Eczema vaccinatum (EV) is a complication that sometimes occurs as a result of the smallpox vaccination, causing a painful rash and fever.

It can be fatal in some cases, according to Healthline.

People with eczema may also be told to avoid having skin-to-skin contact for about 30 days with anyone who gets the jab.

Monkeypox outbreak

Men who have sex with other men are currently the priority groups being targeted for vaccination.

They have made up more than 95 per cent of cases so far, however it is not a “gay person’s disease”.

Anyone can get monkeypox with close skin-to-skin contact with someone infected, or by touching their bedsheets or towels.

As of 4 August, there are 2,859 confirmed and highly probable cases of monkeypox in the UK.

But the outbreak is at last slowing down, the UK Health and Security Agency (UKHSA) said last week.

Dr Meera Chand, Director of Clinical and Emerging Infections, UKHSA, said: “While the most recent data suggests the growth of the outbreak has slowed, we cannot be complacent. 

“Be vigilant of and check yourself for monkeypox symptoms, including rashes and blisters.

“If you are concerned that you may have monkeypox symptoms, take a break from events, meeting with friends or having sexual contact. Instead, stay at home and contact 111 or your local sexual health service for advice.

“The smallpox vaccine is being offered to individuals at higher risk of coming into contact with monkeypox in order to offer them protection and to reduce the spread of disease.”

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