Herpetic skin infection (herpes gladiatorum)
This short post is about another presentation of herpes infection, also named herpes gladiatorum.
Which virus from the herpes family is responsible for this type of infection?
Mostly Herpes simplex type 1, or in short: HSV-1
What is gladiator’s herpes?
Gladiator’s herpes is basiclly herpetic skin lesion. It’s appearance is typical for skin herpetic infections, mainly painful clustered blisters. The source of infection is by direct contact with secretions that harbor the virus.
Where did this infection got It’s prestigious name?
In close combat training (think about American wrestling), children are in close contact. So If Joe has a lesion on his lips, and he touched Bob’s hand – than herpetic lesion will appear on Bob’s hand. If Bob will wrestle Michael, then the lesions will spread on to him, and in fact, to all the other “Gladiators” in the team.
In my country, I see these kinds of outbreaks in Judo classes, but most cases are sporadic, without any connection to specific classes or close contact. It even happens with younger children. For example, in the picture above, I have no idea how the herpetic lesion got to the backside of the child. A kiss from one of the parents with a lesion on the lips (or even without an active lesion)? a caregiver changing the diaper, who did not disinfect her or his hands properly? I don’t know.
What will happen after the disease will pass?
Surprisingly, after this kind of skin infection, I don’t see many recurrence in the same area, as we are used to see in other herpetic infections.
What is the treatment for this disease?
I’ll start by saying that most children are misdiagnosed and are getting an unnecessary antibiotic treatment, or worse – local ointments containing steroids (the herpes virus will grow and become a gladiator himself, if treated with steroids). A correct diagnosis will lead to a more accurate treatment and a fast recovery, as well as stopping the virus from spreading.
In most cases, covering the lesion and using local treatment with Acyclovir cream can be useful. In the minority of cases, systemic treatment with Acyclovir is needed.
When can the child return to his every day activity?
Since the slightest touch can be infectious, return to normal activity is allowed when there are no more new lesions, and the old lesions are completely dry.