Monkeypox is a rare infection that appears on the skin as raised spots, which turn into small blisters filled with fluid. These blisters eventually form scabs, which later fall off. The skin symptoms of monkeypox have the potential to be confused with infected eczema, particularly eczema herpeticum, which is a serious viral herpes infection. For more information on the other symptoms of monkeypox, which appear before the skin symptoms, please see the NHS website. For more information on eczema herpeticum, please see this page.

Children and adolescents with a history or presence of atopic eczema are at risk of more severe monkeypox. If you suspect that you or your child has monkeypox – or eczema herpeticum – please seek immediate same day medical advice.

Monkeypox vaccine (MVA-BN) and cautions for people with eczema

The vaccine recommended to protect against monkeypox is a third generation Modified Vaccinia Ankara (MVA) vaccine, which was first developed in the 1950s for the prevention of smallpox. See the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) website for more information. For most people, the monkeypox vaccine has a favourable safety profile.

People with atopic eczema, though, may be more likely to experience certain side effects from the vaccine. These include more intense local skin reactions (such as the skin becoming red or darker than usual, depending on skin tone, swelling and itching) and other general symptoms (such as headache, muscle pain, feeling sick or tired), as well as a flare-up or worsening of their eczema. In rare cases, people with atopic eczema have experienced serious reactions to the vaccine with widespread infection of the skin.

National Eczema Society and the UKHSA recommend that people with atopic eczema seek a risk assessment before taking the vaccine in order to balance the risk from exposure to monkeypox and the risk of possible side effects from vaccination.

The MVA vaccine is currently being offered to people in the UK at high risk of exposure to monkeypox. Note there have been challenges reported in obtaining sufficient supplies of the vaccine (as of August 2022). The UKHSA recommends MVA is offered to:

  • healthcare workers caring for patients with confirmed or suspected monkeypox
  • men who are gay, bisexual or have sex with other men, and who have multiple partners, participate in group sex or attend sex on premises venues. Staff who work in these premises may also be eligible
  • people who have been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox – ideally they should have the vaccine within 4 days of contact, but it can be given up to 14 days after.

References

This event is organised by the West Surrey and NE Hants Support Group.

When?

2:00pm, Saturday 26 March 2022

Where?

The Pavilion
Woodbridge Road
Guildford
GU1 4RP

Speaker:

Dr George Moncrieff, General Practitioner and Past Chair of the Dermatology Council for England, will give a short presentation followed by questions and answers.

Admission free; donations welcome! No booking needed – just turn up on the day.

Phone 01483 827668 or 01483 567668 for directions if required.

Update, January 2022

On Tuesday 25 January at 4:30pm there will be a Westminster Hall debate on the All Party Parliamentary Group on Skin (APPGS) report on Mental Health and Skin Conditions published in 2020. The debate is only open to MPs and visits to the House are currently suspended, but it will be available to watch on Parliament TV: https://www.parliamentlive.tv/.

23 September 2020

National Eczema Society was very pleased to see the publication of a major new report on mental health and skin disease, produced by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Skin (APPGS).

This looks at the mental health support available to people with skin conditions in the UK and the psychological impact of living with these conditions. It provides evidence of the urgent need for more and better services to support people with the mental health impact of skin conditions like eczema, which can be so debilitating.

Almost all the patients (98%) who took part in an APPGS survey earlier this year said their condition affects their emotional and psychological wellbeing. Five per cent reported having suicidal thoughts. Over half of the patients surveyed did not realise specialised support was available for people with skin conditions, in the form of psychodermatology.

National Eczema Society contributed to this important report and helped promote the patient survey. Thank you to everyone who took part and a number of powerful anonymised quotes from people with eczema are included in the report. Our wonderful patient advocate, Shal Henry-Treloar, spoke about her family’s experience of eczema and her own challenges at an APPGS evidence-gathering event in Westminster in March.

This APPGS report reinforces many of the findings of the Society’s own Eczema Unmasked survey, which we promoted during National Eczema Week. This also highlighted the mental health impacts of living with eczema and the lack of access to emotional and psychological support services.

The full APPGS report is here.

Julie Van Onselen, Dermatology Nurse Adviser to National Eczema Society, introduces the concept of an eczema toolkit

Need advice on coping with one or more aspects of living with eczema? Have a rummage in our toolkit to find information on flare-ups, itch, sleep, relationships, parenting and more…

Eczema basics

Whether you’ve had eczema all your life or you were recently diagnosed – or you have a baby, child or teen with eczema – it can be helpful to get to grips with or revisit the basics, to make sure you’re using your treatments in the most effective way and reducing exposure to triggers where possible.

To find out how to use eczema treatments, reduce exposure to common triggers and manage flare-ups, take a look at the following pages:

Factsheets (for factsheets on Emollients and Topical steroids, and common triggers in the home – Household irritants)

Itching and scratching

Managing flare-ups

Eczema and relationships

If you or your partner has eczema, your relationship can come under pressure as a result. It’s important to be as open, honest and direct as possible, while staying sensitive to each other’s needs.

To give you more confidence in navigating the tricky realm of romantic relationships, please see our Relationships and eczema page.

Eczema and sleep disturbance

If you or your child has eczema, it’s likely that you or they will at some point have disturbed sleep. Waking in the night can lead to a relentless succession of broken nights over weeks or months, leaving you and your child exhausted and irritable.

To help you create the most eczema-friendly sleep environment and maximise your chances of a restful night, take a look at our Sleep and eczema page.

Eczema and school

Managing eczema at school can be daunting. The school environment has the potential to throw up many challenges: triggers, finding time and space to apply creams, self-consciousness and even bullying.

For tips on managing eczema in primary and secondary school, and on building relationships with teachers and other school staff, check out our Eczema and school page (aimed at parents/carers and school staff).

Eczema and mental health

Eczema can affect your mental and emotional wellbeing in a variety of ways. It might affect how you feel, or your mood. It might make you feel down or fed-up, and that might – but not necessarily – include depression. It can also lead to feeling stressed, worried or anxious, and impact upon your self-esteem and body image.

For advice on coping with the psychological aspects of eczema, please see our Mind-body connection page.

Eczema and stress

Stress is our natural response to feeling threatened or under pressure. Many people report that stress makes their eczema worse and increases the itch, and there may be both physical and psychological reasons for this.

For tips on managing stress, please check out our Stress and eczema page.

Information for parents/carers

Eczema affects 20% of children in the UK and around 1 in 20 have severe disease. Uncontrolled eczema has a huge impact on a child’s quality of life.

To help you support your baby, child or teenager with eczema, we have advice and resources on the following pages:

Babies and eczema

Children and eczema

Teenagers and eczema

Need further information?

Please contact our Helpline by email at helpline@eczema.org, or call us on 0800 448 0818 (Monday to Friday, 10:00am – 4:00pm, apart from Bank Holidays).

During National Eczema Week 2021, we shared a series of very personal, emotive and practical short videos of National Eczema Society members and eczema advocates across our social media channels. You can watch those videos here:

Nicola’s story: stress and eczema
Suzanne’s story: relationships and eczema
Phil’s story: family, school and eczema
Monica’s story: eczema itch
Yasmin’s story: childhood memories of eczema and managing the condition as an adult
Yasmin’s tips for managing eczema
Ellen’s story: mental health and eczema

Eczema is different for every person who lives with this debilitating long-term condition. The physical symptoms of eczema can be extremely difficult, including the torment of relentless itching and having to cope with raw, inflamed and bleeding skin. The hidden cost of eczema is the profound impact it can have on people’s emotional well-being. Among other things, eczema can significantly affect our relationships, social life, sleep, schooling and mental health.

In recognition of the many different eczema experiences, #MyEczemaStory is giving a platform for people to share their story of living with eczema. Through sharing experiences, ideas and top tips, we can help others feel they are not alone.

It is incredibly important to us to raise awareness of the realities of eczema, and also highlight the support networks and resources available to the millions of people who are living with eczema, a complex inflammatory condition for which there is still no cure.

Here at National Eczema Society, we have been supporting people living with this common – yet misunderstood – skin condition for more than four decades. To support the campaign this year, we introduced a range of information resources to help people manage their eczema as effectively as possible.

My Eczema Toolkit aims to empower sufferers to take control of their condition, rather than feeling that they are at the mercy of their skin. Created with input from patients and some of the UK’s most experienced dermatologists, My Eczema Toolkit offers practical advice to help support people with the many psychological and emotional challenges of living with eczema described so vividly by those sharing their eczema story.

Warmer weather can be both a blessing and a curse if you have eczema – some people see a marked improvement in their skin, while others experience a decline. So what steps can you take proactively to help?

Stay safe

Be ‘sun smart’ by applying sunscreen, staying in the shade between 11am and 3pm, wearing clothing that offers additional protection (such as long-sleeved tops or items that have built-in UV protection) and putting on a hat and sunglasses.

Seek shade

But don’t rely on it! Even if you’re sitting completely in the shade you are still indirectly exposed to the sun’s rays when they are reflected off surfaces such as water, sand and concrete. Always protect your skin, even in the shade.

Avoid dehydration

If you have eczema, moisture loss is already a significant issue for your skin. Warmer temperatures therefore mean you need to take on more liquids to ensure your body stays well hydrated.

Avoid extremes of temperature

Try to maintain an even body temperature, i.e. don’t go directly from an air-conditioned office to a sunny park on your lunch break.

Keep your cool

Sweat can be a huge irritant for those with eczema so choose clothing that allows your skin to ‘breathe’, such as loose-fitting garments made of natural fibres.

Don’t fry

If you are using a moisturiser that is greasy or oily, be careful not to overdo the application of the moisturiser as this can cause a ‘frying’ effect in the sun. Leave a gap of at least 30 minutes between applying emollient and sunscreen to ensure that the sunscreen retains its protective properties.

Review your medication

Many drugs, including some used to treat eczema, can cause phototoxic reactions so be sure to review the patient information. People who are using topical calcineurin inhibitors such as tacrolimus (Protopic) and pimecrolimus (Elidel) are advised to protect the treated area from sunlight (by covering up or applying sunscreen) to avoid the theoretical risk of developing skin cancer.

Plan in advance

Sun cream is one of the biggest sources of frustration for those with eczema and needs to be tackled early:

  • While a product may have suited your skin the last time you bought it, always check if the formulation has changed before buying it again.
  • If you find something that works, consider stockpiling a few bottles in case the manufacturer suddenly stops making it – always monitor the ‘use by’ dates though.
  • If you’re still seeking that elusive ‘good fit’ with your skin, approach brands about supplying you with a sample to try prior to purchase and test it on your inner arm once a day for 5 days.
  • Many people with eczema find that mineral-based sunscreens are less irritating than chemical absorbers, but this isn’t true for everyone.
  • Unperfumed products are less likely to trigger a flare.

More tips can be found on our Sun and eczema page.