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Vesicular eruption in a 2-year-old boy

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A bath with scented soap prompted a flare of the boy’s eczema. Days later, he was hospitalized with diffuse erosions covering 90% of his body. What was the cause?



A 2-year-old boy with atopic dermatitis developed a flare of his eczema after having a bath with mint-scented soap. His mother treated the flare with over-the-counter topical hydrocortisone cream. Two to 3 days later, he developed grouped vesicles on the right side of his neck. Three days after that, he developed a painful generalized vesicular eruption all over his body.

The boy was admitted to a hospital for supportive care and empiric antibiotics, but was discharged when no bacterial infection was found. The patient’s mother was instructed to follow up with his primary care provider in the next 2 weeks.

Three days after his hospitalization, the eruption on the young boy’s body spread and he was uncomfortable. He was brought to our hospital’s pediatric clinic, where physicians examined him and decided to transfer him to the university hospital for further evaluation.

On exam, the boy was afebrile, but uncomfortable and irritable. Diffuse heme-crusted and punched-out erosions covered about 90% of his body (FIGURE). His mucous membranes were not involved. Underneath the heme-crusted erosions, there were lichenified pink plaques on the antecubital fossae, popliteal fossae, periocular face, and buttocks. The patient’s right dorsal foot had a small vesicle; all other vesicles on his body had crusted over.

The patient’s family indicated that the child had received the varicella vaccine without incident at 12 months of age. He had no history of travel, no contact with sick individuals, and no exposure to pets or other animals.



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