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Lupus

How does non-genital Herpes affect Lupus?

06/10/2003

Question:

My neice is 14 years old, with 4th stage Lupus. Recently she has been hospitalized and diagnosed with non-gential herpes, specifically on the face, eyes & upper body. How will this effect her immune system or lack there of?

Answer:

Patients with lupus, especially those treated with immunosuppressive medication and cytotoxic medication, are immunosuppressed that means they are more prone to infections and also get infections in a more severe fashion. People who had varicella in childhood do not get this condition again but the virus may stay `asleep` in the body, mainly in the nervous system and may appear on the skin in certain conditions which decrease the immunity (the ability of the body to fight infections). Usually it appears quite localized in the region of skin related to a certain nerve `dermatome`. It is called Herpes Zoster or `shingles`. Even healthy persons may get the shingles. When the immune system is suppressed by medication or disease the herpes can spread beyond the `dermatome` and `generalize` looking somewhat similar to Varicella. There are medications today (antivirals) for this problem, to avoid complications. 

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Response by:

Yolanda   Farhey, MD Yolanda Farhey, MD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati