Mpox and eczema may look similar, but they’re different conditions. Eczema can also worsen symptoms and increase your risk of getting mpox. People with eczema also need to be mindful about which mpox vaccine they receive.

Mpox (formerly known as monkeypox) is a viral infection that causes flu-like symptoms and a skin rash. It’s spread through close physical contact with someone with the mpox virus.

Children and adults with eczema, or atopic dermatitis, may be at an increased risk of developing serious symptoms from mpox.

This article explores the connection between mpox and eczema and how you can protect yourself from mpox if you have eczema.

Healthy skin is like a wall that keeps allergens, pathogens, and chemicals from entering your body.

Eczema symptoms — including dryness, irritation, and inflammation — weaken your skin barrier. Viruses that affect the skin can spread more easily, resulting in a more severe infection.

In other words, having eczema can make you more likely to get mpox. When mpox infection occurs with eczema, it’s called eczema monkeypoxicum.

Eczema and other viruses

People with eczema can also have an increased risk of developing the following related conditions:

  • Eczema herpeticum: This infection occurs due to a potentially severe form of the herpes virus that only affects people with eczema. Herpes simplex virus type 1 typically causes cold sores, but eczema herpeticum can cause blistering all over the face and neck.
  • Eczema coxsackium: Coxsackievirus can cause hand, foot, and mouth disease in children. It can cause widespread blistering in children with eczema.
  • Eczema vaccinatum: This serious condition, which causes skin sores and a high fever, is a rare complication of smallpox vaccination that only occurs in people with eczema.
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Smallpox vaccines can prevent the mpox infection. There are two smallpox vaccines available in the United States.

ACAM2000 is a live vaccine that contains a weakened form of the smallpox virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with eczema and those who live in the same household as someone with eczema should not get the ACAM2000 shot since it can trigger eczema vaccinatum.

The JYNNEOS vaccine contains a live form of the smallpox virus that can’t replicate. Experts consider it the safer option for people with eczema since it doesn’t link to cases of eczema vaccinatum.

Keep in mind that the CDC recommends getting vaccinated against mpox if you already have or are likely to come into close physical contact with the mpox virus.

Mpox can cause painful, discolored bumps. A rash due to mpox often starts on the face and spreads out. Over 2–4 weeks, mpox lesions turn into fluid-filled blisters that eventually scab and fall off.

The rash may resemble eczema herpeticum, a potentially serious infection. If you have eczema, flu-like symptoms, and an unexplained rash, getting prompt medical treatment can help prevent complications.

Mpox symptoms

If you have eczema, you may be more likely to experience mpox symptoms, including:

  • rash
  • chills
  • fatigue
  • fever
  • headaches
  • joint pain
  • muscle aches
  • sores
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If you have eczema, preventing flare-ups and managing your symptoms can help prevent mpox infection. These include:

  • replenishing moisture after taking a shower or bath
  • identifying and avoiding eczema triggers
  • following a treatment plan developed with a dermatologist

According to the CDC, you can protect yourself and others from mpox by avoiding close physical contact with someone who has mpox.

You can also prevent infection by avoiding exchanging personal items — such as bedding, clothing, towels, or eating utensils — with someone with the mpox infection. And as always, wash your hands often.

Talk with a healthcare professional to learn more about the mpox vaccine and consider getting it.

Eczema weakens the skin barrier, making it more likely to experience exposure to an infection. As a result, people with eczema may be at an increased risk of contracting mpox, a virus that causes an infection involving flu-like symptoms and a rash.

Mpox symptoms also tend to be more severe in people with eczema. This condition is called eczema monkeypoxicum.

People with eczema should not receive the ACAM2000 smallpox vaccine to prevent mpox, as it links to a potentially serious side effect known as eczema vaccinatum. The JYNNEOS vaccine is typically a safer choice for people with eczema.