Kaposi Varicelliform Eruption

In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan.


Kaposi varicelliform eruption, also called eczema herpeticum, refers to a disseminated skin infection due to a virus that usually leads to localized vesicular eruptions in a patient with an underlying cutaneous disease. Although rare, it is a potentially life-threatening disorder. Herpes simplex virus is considered the main causative agent.

The most commonly reported cases occur in patients with atopic dermatitis. However, it has been described in association with other skin conditions such as pemphigus foliaceus, ichthyosis vulgaris, bullous pemphigoid, Darier disease, Grover disease, Hailey-Hailey disease, dyskeratosis follicularis, mycosis fungoides, Sezary syndrome, psoriasis, pityriasis rubra pilaris, rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis, contact dermatitis (both allergic and irritant), second-degree burns and skin grafts. Clinical features of Kaposi varicelliform eruption include widespread clusters of umbilicated vesicles and pustules that evolve into crusted skin erosions (See Image. Kaposi Varicelliform Eruption).

  1. The most frequently affected sites are the trunk, neck, and head.

  2. The diagnosis of Kaposi varicelliform eruption is made primarily on clinical findings.

  3. The Tzanck smear, viral cultures, skin biopsy, or detection of viral DNA by Polymerase Chain Reaction may be helpful in doubtful cases.

  4. Antiviral therapy has been effective but should be started as soon as possible after diagnosis to reduce morbidity and mortality.

Publication types

  • Study Guide