Background: Atopic dermatitis
(AD) predisposes to viral skin infections, such as eczema herpeticum
(EH), and to bacterial skin infections, such as those caused by Staphylococcus aureus
(SA) and group A streptococcus
(GAS). This study evaluated clinical features of EH and its frequency of codetection with SA or GAS in children hospitalized for presumed AD skin infection.
We retrospectively reviewed clinical data for children ≤18 years of age admitted to a large hospital system for AD with presumed skin infection from January 2004 to December 2018. Those with an alternate primary diagnosis or missing microbiologic data were excluded. Encounters with herpes simplex virus
testing were identified as AD with EH (ADEH+) or without (ADEH−). Encounters with bacterial skin culture growth were identified as SA or GAS.
Among 180 AD encounters with suspected skin infection, 133 (74%) were tested for herpes simplex virus
. Clinical findings associated with ADEH+ status (n = 61) included fever on admission (59% vs. 32% in ADEH−; P
= 0.002), rash on the neck (30% vs. 13%; P
= 0.015) and vesicular rash (70% vs. 49%; P
= 0.011). Encounters in the ADEH+ group had a longer hospital length of stay compared with encounters in the ADEH− group [median 4 days (interquartile range 3–5 days) vs. 3 days (interquartile range 2–3 days); P
< 0.001]. GAS was identified in only 1 ADEH+ encounter (2%) versus 15 ADEH− encounters (26%), P
Providers should maintain a high index of suspicion for EH in children admitted for presumed AD skin infection. GAS was more commonly associated with ADEH− encounters.