14/08/2014 16:52 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Dad Not Allowed To See Newborn Baby Son After Contracting Contagious Herpes Rash

Dad not allowed to see newborn son after contracting hideous and contagious herpes rash

Dad Tom Greenhalgh was banned from seeing his newborn son after contracting a highly contagious herpes rash which covered his body and head in painful, weeping sores.

Tom, 27, was not allowed to be in contact with his son Austin for two weeks because the rare condition could have killed the newborn baby.

Tom from Ilkeston, Nottingham, believes that he became infected with the rare virus by nervously scratching himself as wife Kerry - already two weeks overdue - went into labour at Nottingham City Hospital.

Tom said: "I've got sensitive skin and eczema and then because of the stress of the labour I started scratching myself.

"I was told it would have been easy to pick up the virus from something like a door handle if someone who'd got a cold sore had touched it.

"I saw Austin being born and then went home at 6am and when I woke up the rash had started.
I couldn't see him for another two weeks then or even go near him.

"I wasn't banned from seeing Kerry at the same time, but she wasn't going to go anywhere without Austin so I didn't see her for two weeks too.

Dad not allowed to see newborn son after contracting hideous and contagious herpes rash

"She kept in touch with texts and picture messages, but it wasn't the same as being there. It was such a relief when I was finally allowed to go home and see him and hold him."

Tom had felt euphoric immediately after Austin was safely born and while mother and baby stayed at the hospital, he went home to sleep.

But a few hours later he woke up to find his neck was inflamed and the painful rash quickly spread to his chest and face to his hairline.

Tom tried treating the outbreak with some of his normal eczema cream but weeping sores formed.

Covering his sores in bandaging, he went to the doctor - just 24 hours after leaving the maternity unit.

The GP was so shocked he first thought he was facing a burns victim before prescribing some extra-strong cream. This had little effect and two days later Tom, by now in excruciating pain, took himself to the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham.

Tom was immediately put on a drip and referred to the hospital's dermatology specialists who diagnosed the rash as eczema herpeticum.

Eczema herpeticum is a rare but severe infection that generally occurs at sites of skin damage. It is most commonly caused by Herpes simplex, the virus that causes cold sores, and can be life-threatening in babies.

It normally affects people with atopic eczema - the most common form of eczema - who instead of getting cold sores develop this extreme eczema.

Dermatologists gave him antibiotics and antivirals and a cream he had to put in his eyes to protect them as the rash can cause blindness.

They discharged him the same day - but told him the rash was so contagious he would not be allowed near his baby son for at least two weeks.

Tom said: 'It was a nightmare. The rash was so contagious I couldn't see Austin for two weeks."

He spent a frustrating fortnight staying with his parents as Kerry, 24, and Austin went home.

Just a week after his birth last December, Austin started to show signs of the same rash.

Kerry immediately spotted the danger and rushed him into A & E at the Royal Derby Hospital.

Doctors successfully prescribed the same treatment as Tom and, thankfully, the rash quickly disappeared.

Dad not allowed to see newborn son after contracting hideous and contagious herpes rash

Tom was forced to take six weeks off from his work at a plumbers' merchants as he waited for the scabs to go. It was another four months before the unsightly scars covering his upper body and head had finally cleared.